I'm not sure I see what Dejan Kovacevic is getting at here.
That is how the Cleveland Indians have done it under general manager Mark Shapiro. In recent years, he has given several young players, such as Jhonny Peralta, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, contracts that carry through arbitration. Shapiro's thinking is that, even if he misfires with one or two players, the savings from the rest more than compensate...
Sanchez, making close to the minimum at $342,000, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season. And, because of his outstanding performance in the past year, that process will ensure he receives much more money than if the Pirates had approached him this past winter, when they were signing Joe Randa to a one-year, $4 million deal out of free agency.
Last offseason, I might've complained about an extension for Sanchez more than I complained about the one-year contract for Randa. What had Sanchez done this year to suggest that an extension was in order? When Mark Shapiro signed Hafner, Peralta and Sizemore to long-term deals, they had all shown indications that they would be excellent big-league players in the future. Sanchez was, before this season, just an average infielder. There was no good reason to think he was a good bet to be a long-term answer at third. The Pirates have mishandled Sanchez, but they didn't do anything wrong here.