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Links: Should Pirates' offer to Russell Martin be front-loaded?

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Here are some links while you wait for Game 7 tonight.

-P- Pat wonders about the possibility of the Pirates getting Russell Martin to agree to a front-loaded contract, the way the Cardinals did with Jhonny Peralta last offseason. Most MLB contracts are backloaded, with the most expensive years at the end, but the Peralta deal is the opposite: Peralta got $15.5 million this year, and will get $15 million, $12.5 million and $10 million in the next three years.

Intuitively, the Peralta deal makes sense, given that he's likely to produce less value as the contract progresses. But unless the Cardinals got Peralta at a discount by front-loading his deal (which is possible), front-loading doesn't really help them.

To see why, let's look at a hypothetical contract for Martin. Let's say the Pirates offer four years and $50 million. (I'm not too worried about the dollar figure here, just the distribution of those dollars.) Which distribution is better?

2015: $10 million
2016: $12 million
2017: $13 million
2018: $15 million

or

2015: $15 million
2016: $13 million
2017: $12 million
2018: $10 million

The first deal, which is backloaded, is pretty typical of multi-year deals in baseball. The second one is front-loaded, which parallels Martin's likely value over the course of the deal. But the Pirates should still prefer the first one. Once they get Martin's name on the dotted line, they'll know they owe him $15 million in 2018, and they can budget accordingly, perhaps planning to expand the payroll in 2018 using dollars that are rolled over from previous seasons. Meanwhile, $15 million in 2015 is worth more than $15 million in 2018 due to inflation.

That's true for Martin too, so maybe the Pirates could get Martin to agree to a slightly smaller total financial commitment in exchange for getting him that money sooner. That's fine. But it's generally better for teams to backload contracts as long as they're budgeting intelligently. Backloading a contract in order to delay payments you can't afford to make now is potentially problematic, but contracts don't have to be backloaded for that reason. As long as the Pirates aren't backloading a deal in order to put off a financial commitment they can't yet afford, backloading is probably actually the way to go.

-P- The Orioles outrighted our old friend Evan Meek, who had returned to the big leagues in 2014 after a year away. Meek is now 31. Despite a strong performance at Triple-A Norfolk this year, he might be running out of chances. He doesn't throw nearly as hard as he used to, probably partly due to injuries, but it's still difficult to fathom that he was once the most exciting part of the Pirates' bullpen.

-P- In another blast from the past, Ross Ohlendorf elected free agency after the Nationals outrighted him.

-P- The Blue Jays claimed Justin Smoak. There's no specific Pirates connection here, but we've talked about Smoak a ton over the years. For example, this rumor involving Smoak, John Jaso, Joel Hanrahan and Garrett Jones is fun.

-P- The Reds exercised Johnny Cueto's $10 million option in what I'm sure was one of the easiest decisions of all time. They also declined their $4 million option on infielder Jack Hannahan, paying him a $2 million buyout.