Monday, May 2, 2011

Bucs, McCutch Talking Turkey

Well, it's certainly not as momentous as the front page news today, but Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette reports that Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates are talking about a long-term extension.

It makes sense for a variety of reasons. First, McCutch is the face of the franchise, the first primo ballplayer to pull on a Pirate uni in the Coonelly-Huntington era. Many consider him to be the template for the contract approach toward the other "core four" players, and an indicator of whether they sign 'em or trade 'em.

Second, as Aaron Gleeman says in Hard Ball Talk, "McCutchen is among the best long-term building blocks in the league."

The 24 year-old is a .281 lifetime hitter, and while off to a slow start this season, is a 20-homer, 40-steals, 100 runs scored, 75 RBI, plus defender type player, and that's quite a toolbox.

Finally, there are lots of precedences - the recent Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, and Justin Upton deals give McCutch and the brass a set of figures to work with.

DK suggests that they're looking at buying out his arb years; we think that would be short-sighted. McCutch will be under team control until after the 2015 season. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors speculates that a deal should cover six years and be in the $52M range using the other contracts as a guidepost.

That would buy out two of McCutch's free-agency years, and keep him in Pittsburgh through 2017. It could work for McCutch, too - he'd hit the FA market at age 30 season, and presumably have another big contract waiting for him.

It should also work for the Pirates, who like to add that FA time to their extensions, although as options years rather than guarantees.

It's great news that McCutch and the team are talking turkey. Let's hope that it includes a free agency season or two, which would both keep him together with the other young guns and help to ease the "trade 'em instead of paying 'em" angst of the long-suffering fans.

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