They finally did release the Razzie “winners,” which are traditionally announced the night before the Oscar winners get their spotlight. As expected, the “winners” were as bad as advertised, not that I watched any of the movies. Except Fantastic Four, but I hate-watched it. Grrr.
According to Cole, the team’s initial offer last week was for $538,000 – which was less than his total pay last year. The team refused to go higher than $541,000.
“They even threatened a salary reduction to the league minimum if I did not agree,” Cole said.
The major league minimum salary for 2016 is $507,500.
Let’s be somewhat clear that the Pirates are well within their rights to keep costs low, and that things might change for Cole once he does hit arbitration after this season. That said, even pre-arbitration players can get substantial raises, as we have seen with stars-in-the-making like Albert Pujols, who got a massive raise from the Cardinals when he was just a third-year player. So you can imagine how bad Cole feels given his past season (even if he did lose to the Cubs in the Wild Card game). Even Mike Trout got a million bucks right before he signed his extension, but then again, he’s Mike Trout.
Knowing the system is the way it is, where pre-arbitration players are beholden to their parent club’s discretion in doling out salary (as long as it’s above the minimum), Gerrit Cole maybe should have expected this, particularly from a team as notoriously stingy as the small-market Pirates. At the same time, given what he’s given to said franchise, a slightly larger raise would have been nice. This, unfortunately, is the system that players must deal with before free agency (and for non-elite players, as Dexter Fowler found out, they have their own set of problems, but they’ll get paid more than Cole is right now).
On the early-career part of the spectrum, the Kris Bryant grievance for the very convenient timing of his call-up is still ongoing, and Bleacher Nation talks about how the Ruben Tejada scenario might apply to Bryant’s situation (I agree with Michael Cerami that it might not matter given the injury factors leading to Bryant’s promotion). The sad truth is that until they make it to the bigs, most baseball players live in relative poverty and must scrounge to even eat and make rent during their season. Bryant got the big payday, so he’s got a nest egg to fall back on, but most baseball signees don’t have that. And although it looks like a simple game and a kid’s game at that, playing professional baseball at a high level IS a job, and does take a toll on athletes’ bodies (note all the Tommy John surgeries, for instance). As in any job, all the employees want is to be fairly compensated as dictated by the market and their skill sets.
Far be it for me to ask you to feel bad about guys who are, or will eventually be, millionaires, but this is definitely some food for thought.