Dunlap: Pirates Need To Make Honest Effort With Nova

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – The Pirates don’t just need to pay.

The might have to overpay.

That’s what it costs to do business now in Major League Baseball.

That’s how you have to handle starting pitchers on the free agency market.

And, maybe most important, that might be the only way to satiate a pretty damn upset fan base after what looks like it could turn into a season with a final record below .500.

Yeah, I said it, the Pirates might have to overpay — and in a way take a decent sized risk — on Ivan Nova.

Again, it’s that cost of doin’ bidness stuff.

And it might be the cost of savin’ face for the Pirates come this offseason.

See, the Pirates are in a way still reeling — on the field but almost as important on the fan anger meter — from not procuring the talents of J.A. Happ when he hit free agency this past offseason. He got paid $36 million for three years of service and in this, his first season, all he’s done so far is go 18-4 with a 3.33 ERA in his first 28 starts for Toronto.

More so, here in Pittsburgh, he’s become emblematic of the one who got away, the one the Nuttings didn’t pony up and pay because they were perceived to be too cheap.

This can’t happen again.

This better not happen again — or torches and pitchforks might not be a metaphor for how fans act. It might be reality.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, in my eyes an exceedingly honest man and maverick of a baseball executive who is hamstrung by an owner who should spend more, joined The Fan Morning Show on Wednesday. He talked about Nova, the 29-year-old who will be a free agent at the end of the season and, fresh of an 11-strikeout performance is 5-0 as a Pirate.

“If it were unilateral, he’d be re-signed by right now, but again, it’s not,” Huntington said. “There are two parties involved in negotiation…He’s close to free agency, and typically, when a player gets this close to free agency – whether it’s four months, two months, or four weeks away from free agency – it becomes something where, unless that player is absolutely die-hard to stay, and is absolutely motivated to stay – as David Freese was – it becomes very challenging to sign that player unless you beat that expected market, which is tough to in some situations.”

Translation: Nova is hitting the market at the end of the season and he’s going to get paid. My thought is the Pirates should do everything in their power to make sure he stays here.

What is everything in their power? Well, it starts at a three-year, $40 million offer to the man. Then you build from there a bit if you have to. If you have to add a year to the deal, you add a year to the deal. Yeah, it’s that cost of doin’ bidness stuff.

Nova might not do what Happ has done if he goes somewhere else. But, if you are the Pirates right now with a fanbase fuming, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to take that chance.

This organization — and more to the point this owner — should do just about everything they can to make sure Nova’s final start this season for this club isn’t his final start, period, for this club.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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