The Pirates have yet to approach center fielder Andrew McCutchen about a long-term extension, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Team president Frank Coonelly explained that while McCutchen is the type of player they'd want to lock up, "the earlier you go, the more risk you take on." McCutchen has only 108 big league games under his belt.
McCutchen told Kovacevic that "it would be cool" to sign a Justin Upton-like extension. But as the player noted, Upton has significantly more time in the Majors. I'm not sure he's the right comparable anyway.
McCutchen won't even be arbitration-eligible until after the 2012 season. The model for an extension might come from this group of signed center fielders: Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino, Franklin Gutierrez, Curtis Granderson, Nate McLouth, Chris Young, and David DeJesus. How much will it cost the Pirates to buy out McCutchen's three arbitration years? That might depend on how much power he displays. But the players listed gave up their arbitration years at prices ranging from $8.1MM for DeJesus to $17.25MM for Granderson. Gutierrez, signed most recently, gets $11.5MM.
Kovacevic's article touches on McLouth, as the way he was extended and traded months later was not received well. Coonelly says that the team's actions will gain the fans' trust. He also said:
We can never say never, but I will say again that the days of us needing to move players in order to get multiple players in return to rebuild the system, those are over.