Kevin Correia threw 6 2/3 strong innings on Tuesday night, allowing just one earned run and striking out five, earning his 12th win of the season. It cost him almost a quarter of a million dollars.
Well, not exactly. But Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle may have.
Earlier this season, when the Pirates were still contending thanks to their strong pitching, they briefly ran into the problem that all managers dream about – having too much pitching. The acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros gave the Pirates six healthy starters and a move became necessary.
After his start on July 25, Correia was demoted to the Pirates bullpen. After a relief appearance on the 29th, the Pirates used six men in their rotation for two cycles before Correia once again went back to the bullpen, making two more relief appearances at the end of August. He rejoined the Pirates rotation at the beginning of September, making five starts to finish out the season.
During the stretch between Aug. 14 and Sept. 5, he made just one start instead of the four he likely would have made during that 22-day period.
Correia was unhappy about his demotion to the bullpen, and understandably so. He finished the season with 171 innings pitched in 27 starts. Clauses in his contract specify that Correia is due for bonuses of $100,000 for every ten innings he pitches after he hit the 170 innings mark this season. Additionally, he is due $125,000 for every two starts after he hit 26.
He hit the first level of both of those bonuses, but missed another $225,000 by one start and nine innings, which he surely would have hit if he had never been taken out of the Pirates rotation. Most likely, he would have made three to four more starts, giving him 30 starts, more than 190 innings and an extra half-million dollars in his pocket.
Correia is a free agent after this season, and while he likely wasn’t returning to the Pirates anyway, his mid-season demotion probably sealed the deal. No one on either side is crying foul, suggesting that the team purposely kept Correia from reaching his performance bonuses, but he felt insulted by having to pitch in relief and will likely pursue an opportunity for next season where he won’t have to deal with a similar situation.