Not as big a deal for most teams but for the Pirates - HUGE.
They have to demonstrate they can hold onto young talent they develop.
The Pirates and Andrew McCutchen have come to terms on a six-year, $51.5 million contract, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Just 25 years old, McCutchen had just over two years of accumulated service time, so this deal buys out his final pre-arbitration season, all three of his arb years, and his first two years of free agency, while also giving the Pirates a team option (for $14.75 million) on what would be his third free agent eligible season. Barring an injury or a total collapse of his skills, that option looks very likely to be exercised, so the working assumption should be that the Pirates have locked up McCutchen’s age 25-31 seasons for $65 million.
You don’t need to do any kinds of calculations to know that McCutchen’s likely going to be worth way, way more than that as long as he keeps going at the pace he’s established so far. Despite the fact that UZR hasn’t been a huge fan of his defense to date, he’s still managed to put up +12.9 WAR during his first three years in the big leagues – only Matt Kemp (+14.3), Josh Hamilton (+14.1, not really a CF going forward), Michael Bourn (+13.
, Curtis Granderson (+13.5), and Shane Victorino (+13.3) have outproduced him among center fielders since the start of the 2009 season. Toss in aging curves and regress the defensive metrics a bit more than the offensive numbers, and McCutchen’s right there with Kemp and Granderson for the title of best center fielder in the game.
Guys who can post a wRC+ of 126 in 1500 plate appearances through age 24 – while playing a good enough center field – are ridiculously rare. If you were starting a franchise from scratch tomorrow, McCutchen would be on the short list of guys you’d look at to build a team around. He’s already an All-Star and his broad base of skills and physical talents suggest that he could get even better. It’s not at all out of the question that McCutchen could peak as the best outfielder in the game. And now, with this deal, the Pirates have guaranteed that his best days will be spent in Pittsburgh.