Monday, September 22, 2008

Pirates, Alvarez agree to new contract

Holy crap. On Sunday nights between about 10 PM and 2 AM, I get tied up in making my weekly rewinds for FanHouse and I don't venture to many websites beyond Getty Images or Creative Commons, unless I'm bouncing out to write up an incredibly overdue recap of the Sunday afternoon Pirate game. That means that I missed the Post-Gazette refreshing it's stories at midnight. Which means I missed this:

In a stunning reversal of a summer-long drama, the Pirates and top draft pick Pedro Alvarez last night agreed to terms on a revised four-year, major league contract worth a guaranteed $6,355,000, according to three sources intimately familiar with the talks.
Dejan has many more details in the article, so I'd recommend that you check that out.

Without knowing who initiated these talks and who got this deal done, I'd say that this is great news for the Pirates that is going to make other teams very, very unhappy. The Pittsburgh Pirates' #1 concern has to be the Pittsburgh Pirates and getting Pedro Alvarez into the system has been the top priority since the trading deadline, I think. As Dejan points out, this is really more of a re-structuring of things than us paying him a bigger bonus and the money isn't really that different in the long run. We can afford to put him on the 40-man roster (John Van Benschoten and Yoslan Herrera are still there for starters), which is necessary the moment he signs since this is a major-league deal and while we have to use an option for every year he plays in the minors, he's not going to need more than three years in the minors. Most importantly, signing him now means he can play in Arizona or Hawaii this fall/winter. For everyone worried about what this whole incident did to his development, Matt Wieters made his professional debut in the Hawaii Winter League last year. He's doing OK.

On the flip side, the Pirates have just destroyed the draft-pick signing deadline by negotiating with Boras after the deadline passed. It is now an established precedent that Boras can get the contract changed after the deadline. Whether it's more favorable to Alvarez or not is academic, the fact that the this happened means that Boras's tactic of holding Alvarez out from signing got things changed.

I know that some Pirate fans are going to be pissed that we did this and that we "caved" to Boras, but I disagree pretty strongly with that feeling for a few of reasons. First of all, doing this almost certainly takes things out of the hands of the arbitrator. He likely would've sided with the Pirates, but there's no way to be sure of that and this isn't the kind of decision that I'd want in someone elses hand's if I were the Pirates. Again, doing this probably ensures that Alvarez's pro career starts this fall, and that's important. And finally, when you draft a Boras client, especially one like Alvarez, you have to understand that the rules don't apply. Boras's entire operating procedure is to assume that he can get the rules changed to his favor and if you're not willing to work with him inside of those parameters, there's a good chance he's going to make your life miserable. The Pirates worked with him and got exactly what they needed.