Polanco is tearing up the International League five weeks into his first Triple-A season, batting .395 for Indianapolis, with 28 RBIs in 31 games. Calls for his promotion, by fans and media alike, have increased with the Pirates struggling offensively, particularly at Polanco's right-field position.
The reports allege that the Pirates are holding off on promoting Polanco until he is out of Super Two status range, which would hold off his eligibility for salary arbitration for another year.
Hence, an attempt to establish long-range cost certainty with Polanco would make perfect sense. The Houston Astros were reported to have taken a similar approach with top prospect George Springer, who also rejected a long-term offer. He was called up on April 17.
Such a deal for Polanco, who has yet to appear in the Major Leagues, would set a precedent. From the Bucs' perspective, the closest comparison is the six-year, $15 million deal signed by Jose Tabata in August 2011, in the middle of his second big league season.
Andrew McCutchen and, more recently, Starling Marte have also been signed for long-term deals but both had more service time than did Tabata.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.