Originally tweeted by Tim Dierkes of MLBTR, the Pirates are discussing a mulityear deal with outfielder Jose Tabata. The outfielder has recently changed representation, leaving ACES and now being represented by Jeff Fannell.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes, the two sides are close on a six-year agreement.
Tabata is in his second year and won't be eligible for arbitration until after 2013, which means he won't be eligible to be a free agent until after 2016, one year after Andrew McCutchen. Neal Huntington has repeatedly said the team would only be interested in doing something like this if the team could buy out some of the player's free agency years.
This type of deal would set Tabata up for life and buy out his first year of free agency. Tabata would make about $1 million the next two years without a new deal and then have three years of arbitration. If those averaged $4-5 million over three years, I would guess a six year deal will come in somewhere between $25-30 million.
UPDATE: Tim Dierkes tweeted that he is hearing that Tabata's extension may include three club options. Depending on the prices, there could obviously be great value in that for the Pirates.
UPDATE 2: Dierkes is now tweeting that Fannell does not represent any players and he is not sure who currently represents Tabata. This doesn't enhance his credibility, but more than one source is reporting that a deal is close.
UPDATE 3 by Charlie: Wow. This is a very bold move given how little Tabata has actually accomplished so far, but maybe a wise one, in that the Pirates buy the right to keep a good young player in Pittsburgh through his age 31 season. The player options would be great, and they're straight out of the Tampa Bay Rays playbook, and because Tabata is young and hasn't had a big payday yet, I assume the base value of the contract wouldn't be prohibitively expensive, either. It's hard to comment further without knowing the terms the two sides are discussing, but I'm curious to see what they are.
Also, I tend to think the base value of the contract will be more like $20-25 million, rather than $25-30, as David guesses above. Tabata is still unproven and has a powerful incentive to sign a contract that give him a big payday, and the Pirates are still assuming a fair amount of risk by signing such an unproven player to a contract worth $20-25 million. Also, a less expensive contract would put the final base years of the deal at more like $6-$7 million apiece, which would mean the three options afterwards would be more likely to be priced reasonably.
She reports that the Tabata deal could be done by next Wednesday and it was the Pirates, despite their desire not to negotiate in season, who reached out to Tabata.
UPDATE 5 by Charlie: If the Pirates want to sign Walker, I can't believe something won't get done, due to Walker's deep roots in Pittsburgh. Again, it's hard to comment much without knowing the terms, but I would be comfortable taking Walker year to year - he's older than Tabata, and second basemen don't always age well. That doesn't mean an extension would be an awful idea, however.
UPDATE 6 by Charlie: Enrique Rojas reports the Pirates have signed Tabata. Here are the details:
$1 million signing bonus, increase to $500,000 salary in 2011
2012 - $750,000
2013 - $1 million
2014 - $3 million
2015 - $4 million
2016 - $4.5 million
There are three options on the deal that would bring the total to $37.25 million.
This is a great deal for the Pirates, obviously - it's at the low end of what I imagined, and I was thinking the sixth full year of the contract would be guaranteed, but it isn't (since the first year of the contract is actually 2011, not 2012). This deal gives the Pirates the chance to buy out three free agent years. It also sounds like Tabata's representation was upset with him for wanting to do this deal, which is why he won't be working with them anymore.
The source also revealed that the agreement led to the split between originals and their representatives Tabata, ACES, due to certain differences. A lawyer helped the player to [complete] the contract.
This is terrific. If these details are correct, this is just obscenely cheap. In fact, it's highway robbery by the Pirates. Sure, there's a chance that Tabata doesn't get any better, but if he does, this is so much less than he would get in arbitration. Even the options should be very reasonable prices.
UPDATE 7 by David: I think things are a little deceiving here. The Pirates are calling the deal a six-year deal, but it includes this season. Under that scenario the team didn't buy out any of the free agency years. They did get three option seasons however which probably run at around $6 million, $7.5 million and $9 million. That means a "six-year deal" if the Pirates were to exercise the option in 2017, Tabata's first year of free agency, would run about $21 million. That still seems like a very reasonable deal as I was suggesting it might run $25-30, but it's not a six-year deal in exactly the way we were imagining.