The Pirate signed four of their arbitration eligible players to one-year deals today. Adam LaRoche will receive $7.05 million and John Grabow will be paid $2.3 million. Each is in his final year before free agency. Zach Duke will earn $2.2 million in his first year of arbitration, while Tyler Yates receives $1.3 million in his second.
Some people are already griping about the salaries for LaRoche and Duke. I expected LaRoche to get a little more, so I am happy with this deal. It is not a great value or anything, but $7 million is pretty much what he is worth. Zach Duke is severely underrated by most fans. He was virtually league average in FIP and tRA last season, both defense-independent statistics. He was worth about two wins, which would warrant over $8 million in free agency. I cringe any time someone brings up the possibility of signing a free agent pitcher such as Jon Garland, Braden Looper or Oliver Perez. Duke was better than each of them in 2008. The Pirates’ defense simply makes him look much worse than he really is.
The team was unable to agree to terms with Paul Maholm or Nate McLouth, the remaining two players eligible for arbitration. Each player is seeking $3.8 million in his first year of eligibility, with the Pirates offering McLouth $2.75 million and Maholm $2.65 million. These seem like pretty large discrepancies, and obviously they are much bigger than we would hope to see. But there is still plenty of time before the hearings, so I don’t think we should be too worried yet. The last thing we need is an ugly contract dispute with one of our core young players.