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Pirates demote Jose Tabata and his $15 million contract to Triple-A

Jul 3, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

Jose Tabata Getty Getty Images

Less than a year ago the Pirates and Jose Tabata agreed to a long-term contract extension that guarantees him $15 million, could reach as high as $37 million, and keeps him under team control through 2019.

Today the Pirates optioned Tabata to Triple-A after he hit just .230 with three homers and a .636 OPS in 72 games.

Tabata’s production last season was also disappointing, as he failed to build on a strong rookie campaign and also missed significant time with a broken hand, but he’s been downright awful this year offensively, defensively, and on the bases.

Still, to go from $15 million contract extension to Triple-A banishment in 11 months is pretty remarkable and it’s interesting that the Pirates chose not to call up top prospect Starling Marte as his replacement. Instead they’ll keep Marte at Triple-A and turn to Gorkys Hernandez, a light-hitting speedster who briefly saw some action in Pittsburgh back in May. That suggests they view the Tabata demotion as temporary–which is sort of a given thanks to the contract–and may also feel that Marte isn’t quite ready for the big leagues at age 23.

Also worth noting: At the time of the signing Tabata’s contract extension struck me as “an odd move for the Pirates given that Tabata is under their control through 2016 already and hasn’t exactly established himself as a long-term building block yet.” Sometimes things are exactly as they appear.

  1. jbro3169 - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Poor pirates! Is there a worse front office in sports?

    • guinsrule - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM


  2. Stiller43 - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    A few weeks ago, there were a bunch of buccos that would have killed to hit .230

  3. buccobrigade - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Poor Pirates? They are raking right now and don’t need him. And remember this is 15 million through 2019. That’s not even 3 million per year. He’ll get himself right and be back. Meanwhile, the Bucs will keep winning.

  4. danaking - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    This is a great news for Pirates fans. Imagine them sending someone with a long-term contract to AAA a few years ago. he would have played in Pittsburgh as there was no way they’d pay that kind of money for him to play in Indianapolis. I’d like to see him get his act together, and soon, but, to me, this shows the Pirates are serious about spending some money to win.

  5. hitem396 - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    a small beginning for the re-20-year under .500

  6. steelerfanforlife - Jul 3, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Come on Jbro, don’t comment if you have no idea what you’re talking about

  7. gammagammahey - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    It’s a notable story but the way the headline and story are phrased are a little disingenuous, distorting the fact that Tabata is only making $750k this year and his guaranteed $15m was over 6 years (including a buyout of his 2017 option). He wasn’t signed to a contract with the expectation that he’d be Evan Longoria. The terms of his deal were more akin to the Pirates expecting that he’d be an everyday player for 6 years. The fact that he’s underperformed that is notable but don’t oversell it.

  8. genericcommenter - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    I understand that players who are not good enough to make the Yankees MLB team can be at least decent enough to start for a few other clubs, but people who follow baseball knew this guy wasn’t going to be that good back when he was back in Trenton.

    He is pretty young though. I guess he could pull a Melky and break through in his 7th or 8th season.

  9. moogro - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Twins front office is worse.

    • yahmule - Jul 3, 2012 at 11:23 PM

      Twins front office coming off a three day drunk is better than the Rockies front office.

  10. Detroit Michael - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    He and Adam Lind could form a club. Lind’s turnaround from contract extension to AAA was not as quick, but it also was an extension with a bigger dollar amount.

  11. stairwayto7 - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Tabata, Karstens and a AA pitcher for Hunter Pence!

  12. proudliberal85392 - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:11 PM


  13. myspaceyourface - Jul 4, 2012 at 12:29 AM


    Get your head on straight Jose

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