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OF prospect Polanco declines Pirates' multiyear contract offer

| Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 8:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco returns to the dugout during a game against the Twins on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

On Tuesday, an industry source confirmed to the Tribune-Review that top prospect Gregory Polanco rejected a multiyear contract offer from the Pirates during spring training.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report Polanco rejected the offer, which was worth slightly less than $25 million. The deal was for seven years plus three club options that would have bought out Polanco's first three years of free agency.

Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com reported the deal's total value would have been between $50 million and $60 million if all the options were picked up.

“As we have done in prior situations, we will refrain from commenting on any player-specific contract rumors,” Huntington said via an email released by the club.

The Pirates signed Polanco, 22, for $150,000 in April 2009 out of the Dominican Republic.

In 29 games with Triple-A Indianapolis, Polanco has hit .397 (46 for 116) with four home runs, six stolen bases and a 1.070 OPS.

Collectively, Pirates right fielders rank 10th in the National League with a .226 average and 12th with a .605 OPS. They rank 10th in stolen bases (one) and are tied for last in extra-base hits (six).

Two weeks ago, general manager Neal Huntington said Polanco is “continuing to refine some of the intricacies of his game” with Indianapolis.

It is not uncommon for teams to keep their top prospects in the minors for as long as possible to keep them from qualifying for Super 2 status, which grants an extra year of salary arbitration.

Huntington said avoiding Super 2 “is not a driving factor for us” when deciding when to promote a player to the majors for the first time.

“For us, it's about putting that player in position to be successful,” Huntington said. “It's not about graduating to the big leagues to gain experience. It's being ready to help a major league team win games.”

In his article, Passan likened Polanco's situation to that of rookie outfielder George Springer. The Houston Astros offered Springer a seven-year, $23 million contract during spring training, then sent him back to the minors after he declined.

Springer made his big league debut April 16 — 2 12 weeks into the season — which delays him from becoming a free agent by a year.

During spring training, Huntington said the Pirates are willing to offer young players and prospects multiyear deals if the conditions are right.

“We've talked repeatedly about the willingness to pursue appropriate extensions being part of our philosophy as we go forward,” Huntington said. “We'll be selective in that. You can't just go extend everybody because they don't all work, despite the myth that these are always club-friendly deals. Right situation, right player, right contract — we'll absolutely take a look at it. Who knows where we'll go with it?”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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