BRADENTON, Fla. — The sun was shining, literally and figuratively, this afternoon on the team offices at Pirate City.
In a third-floor conference room, GM Neal Huntington said Nate McLouth’s three-year contract made it “yet another great day for the Pirates organization, not just a beautiful day in Bradenton.”
Two hours earlier, the players wrapped up a short workout on a warm, breezy day. Many of the players showered quickly and bolted from the clubhouse to participate in the Pirates’ Charities annual golf outing.
McLouth stuck around a while for a press conference to re-announce his three-year, $15.75 million deal.
Some input from Huntington:
• “These deals are an important part of our plan, going forward. It gives us cost certainly. In the right situation, it gives us the ability to build around these players. We know what their dollar figures are and we can allocate our resources accordingly to bring in additional players.”
• General counsel Larry Silverman negotiated with McLouth’s agents the past few months. McLouth’s camp put up quite a fight — “probably a stronger one than we’ve had in most cases,” Huntington said. When the two sides met for a final time Monday night, it was president Frank Coonelly who pushed the deal to completion. “Frank ultimately came in and closed out the game in the ninth inning,” Huntington said.
Coonelly is in Bradenton, but did not attend today’s press conference. Tuesday, when he arrived from Phoenix, Coonelly did not return an interview request from the Tribune-Review.
Some input from McLouth:
• “It is a dream to sign a multi-year deal. What makes it even better for me is I’m signing with the team that drafted me when I came out of high school. For them to allocate part of the future to me, these resources they’ve allocated to me, it means a lot. I’m proud to be a Pirate for at least three more years, hopefully longer. I’m humbled by the confidence they showed in me.”
• McLouth admitted there is risk for both sides. Then he quickly turned to Huntington and quipped, “Did I pass my physical?”
“I went out to Arizona (on Monday) not to show them that I would take it to a hearing, but just because that’s where I thought it was going to end up. Doing a multi-year (contract) never crossed my mind. It came together at the last minute, but it came together well.”
• McLouth theorized the last round of talks with the Pirates was ignited “when another player agreed to terms out in Arizona right before his arbitration hearing was supposed to start.” That player was most likely Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who Monday signed a one-year deal for $3.1 million.
• McLouth played an active role in the negotiations. “Every e-mail that was sent back and forth, I was copied on it. It was important for me to know what (the Pirates) were saying and where they stood.”