Pirates finalize extension with Tabata

| Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

Saying it was the right time, right player and right contract, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington announced a contract extension for Jose Tabata that could keep the outfielder in Pittsburgh through 2019.

Tabata is signed through 2016 for $14.75 million guaranteed (with a $250,000 buyout) and an additional three club option years in 2017 ($6.5 million), '18 ($7.5 million) and '19 ($8.5 million).

"We're looking forward to him having a long and productive career - hopefully all of it - here in Pittsburgh," Huntington said. "Jose is one of the better young talents in the game, and we feel like we've just begun to scratch the surface of his potential."

The Pirates prefer not to negotiate contracts during the season because of the potential of the player being distracted. But Huntington said the talks began some time ago and it made sense to keep moving forward.

The deal buys out Tabata's three arbitration years. In return, the Pirates get the three club option years at the end of the contract. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

"There is shared risk - in our case, guaranteed dollars; in his case, leaving money on the table," Huntington said. "But it gives us the opportunity to fix a cost, and we know what Jose's going to cost the Pirates as we move forward."

Tabata, who turned 23 on Aug. 12, is hitting .271 with 14 doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 stolen bases and 17 RBI in 76 games. In five games since coming off the disabled list with a strained quadriceps, he is batting 7 for 20 (.350) with a home run and seven runs scored.

Tabata, a native of Venezuela, made his major league debut on June 9, 2010.

"The Pirates gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues," Tabata said. "I don't want to talk about the money, but I can say it's good because it takes care of my family. I like Pittsburgh. I like the city, I like the people, and I want to stay here for a long time."

Both Tabata and Huntington also talked about the increased responsibility that comes with a multiyear contract extension.

"Jose's driven to be great. He wants to be the guy," Huntington said. "He wants to help his team win and do everything in his power to put his team in a position to win. His family is now taken care of, and he can go play baseball and doesn't have to worry about the business side.

"But he also understands the responsibility that comes with this contract. We're looking forward to him getting better and - for his sake and ours - potentially outperforming the contract."

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