San Francisco Giants Retain Non-Tender Candidate Ehire Adrianza

The Giants reached an agreement with Ehire Adrianza to keep him in the organization for a 12th season.  It is a split minor league contract that calls for him to be paid $600,000 per annum for major league service time and $300,000 per annum for minor league service time during 2017.

What is interesting about this contract is that the minor league amount is so high relative to the major league amount.  Traditionally, minor league split contracts for players with at least one day of major league service time provide for very low minor league money relatively to major league money — major league money typically being 4 to 6 times as much as the minor league money, the pay-for-play incentive being obvious.

The Giants have long liked Adrianza, even though he hasn’t yet turned into the major league player they were hoping he would.  After having spent parts of four seasons in the Bigs, Adrianza must be out of options, and I strongly suspect that the relatively high level of minor league pay was offered both so that Adrianza would be more likely to accept a future minor league assignment and so that other teams will be less likely to claim him as he passes through waivers.

In my mind, it is always a good thing to find a way to re-sign a marginal major leaguer going into his age 27 season, because if he is ever likely to contribute significantly at the major league level, that is the most likely age for him to do it.

I noticed possibly a new trend earlier today when the Milwaukee Brewers re-signed one of their non-tender candidates, three-way outfielder Kirk Nieuwenheis, on a split minor league contract calling for $900,000 at the major league level and $257,000 at the minor league level.  In fact, this may very quietly be one of the most team-friendly contracts signed this off-season, as fangraphs valued Nieuwenheis’ 2016 performance as being worth $8 million, mainly on his defense.  In fact, fangraphs values his five season, 1,085 plate appearance major league career at more than $25 million.

During the 2013-2014 off-season, eight minor league free agents were able to command major league deals for the 2014 season, which looked like the start of a new trend.  Not one of the eight ended up being worth a damn, and that was the last time I heard anything about minor league free agents getting major league contracts.

That said, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t heard about players like Adrianza and Nieuwenheis getting minor league contracts that paid them this much for minor league service time before this off-season.  I suspect similar contracts have been signed in previous off-seasons, but I just haven’t heard about them.

Meanwhile, the Giants also reportedly re-signed another of their non-tender candidates Cory Gearrin for $1.05 million.  mlbtraderumors.com predicted he’d get $1.1 million through the arbitration process, so the Giants and Gearrin appear merely to have beaten the rush.

In my mind, Gearrin was just good enough for the Giants in 2016 to be worth bringing back, and the Giants can certainly afford what they’ll be giving him in 2017.  Fangraphs values his 2016 at $4.4 million, although the Cory Gearrins of the MLB world have been pretty fungible as far as the Giants have been concerned.  The team never seems unable to come up with at least one or two marginal major league pitchers each off-season who will pitch well for at least one season in AT&T Park, a strong pitchers’ park.

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