PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - A look at Pirates players from last year and the potential for them to be a part of a hopeful Bucco resurgence in two or three years.
Polanco makes nearly three times more than the second highest paid Pirate this season. With all of the potential, and the injuries and the questions, could Polanco finally turn a corner?
Is Polanco part of the Pirates future?
CONTRACT-At $11.6 million, Polanco currently takes up over 30% of the team payroll and owed $12.5 million next year as the only active player signed for 2022 and would get $13.5 million in the final year of his deal in 2023. However, the Pirates do have a $3 million dollar buyout next year and a $1 million dollar buyout in 2023.
HISTORY-Signed out of the Dominican and the lone Pirate left from the post-season appearances in 2013-15. Polanco started at A ball in 2013 and moved up to AAA by the end of the season. Polanco would start 69 games in AAA in 2014 hitting .328 with 51 RBI in 69 games before coming to the Pirates in June of that year.
OUTPUT—Even years were good for Polanco until 2020. In 2016, he hit .258 with 34 doubles, 22 homers and 86 RBI. Injuries slowed him down in 2017. Polanco played in 130 games in 2018, hitting .254 with 32 2B, 23 HR and 81 RBI. A shoulder injury eliminated most of 2019, playing in just 42 games with a .242 average and 6 homers. 2020 was a disaster for Polanco on many levels, hitting just .153 with 65 strikeouts in 157 at bats. To be fair, Polanco was second on the team in homers and RBI.
OUTLOOK—The 2018 season led to a five-year contract worth 35 million which had the potential to be a steal for the Pirates. It still could be IF Polanco could stay healthy. He’s shown the power, which they desperately need. You have to wonder if it will ever all come together for the team-first, affable Polanco.
NO—A team rebuilding doesn’t have a need for a right-fielder making $11.6 million or even higher into the future. Expect Polanco to be shopped if he puts it together in the first half or his contract bought out if he has another question-filled season.