Pirates, McCutchen Discussing Extension

The Pirates are discussing a long-term contract extension with center fielder Andrew McCutchen, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  Kovacevic adds that "there is no sign that an agreement is imminent."


Talking to Kovacevic, McCutchen gushed about Pittsburgh and his willingness to remain with the Pirates for his entire career.  McCutchen, who is represented by Steve Hammond of Aegis Sports Management, seeks a deal that "reflects potential future performance," in Kovacevic's words.

McCutchen, 24, owns a career line of .281/.362/.454 at the moment in 1,264 plate appearances.  He's a couple weeks away from reaching two years of service time.  He'll be at two years and 123 days of service after the season, which would have resulted in Super Two status using last year's cutoff.  However, if CAA's early prediction of a 2.146 cutoff is anywhere close to accurate, McCutchen will not be a Super Two player.  In that case he would be arbitration eligible after the 2012, '13, and '14 seasons.  Regardless, he's eligible for free agency after the '15 season.

MLBTR's Luke Adams discussed McCutchen's extension candidacy in December, noting comparables Justin Upton and Jay Bruce.  Since then another big name outfielder was extended in Carlos Gonzalez.  Upton is the best comparable – he was extended between two and three years of service time and is not a Super Two.  Bruce's deal would match up if you were to drop the fourth arbitration year; one other difference is that his included a club option on a third free agent season.  CarGo's deal, of course, is the gold standard for those in McCutchen's service class.  To line up Gonzalez's contract with Upton's, we could lop off the final-year $20MM salary and think of it as six years and $60MM.

If this gets done, I expect a six-year term for McCutchen, buying out two free agent years.  Career bulk is a major factor in the arbitration process, so it should be important in a multiyear deal as well.  A healthy 2011 season from McCutchen would give him a 100+ games played advantage over Upton, so I don't see why McCutchen would settle for less than $52MM.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

14 Responses to Pirates, McCutchen Discussing Extension Leave a Reply

  1. j6takish 4 years ago

    Pirates locking up a young star?!? This has to be a ploy to get more leverage when they inevitibly flip him for “prospects”…..right?

  2. Jeff Weissbuch 4 years ago

    If they do this they could be on their way to be a real franchise again

  3. Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

    Denard Span is actually a perfect comparable. Denard was locked up once he amassed a 6.5 fWAR respectively. McCutchen’s career fWAR was 6.6 entering the year. Basically, a player’s salary should grow 42%, 54%, and 85% throughout the duration of the deal (or at least the first three seasons) but judging what he’s expected to make in arbitration next time around (assuming ZiPS aren’t compeltely innacurate), making close to $1MM in the first year of a new deal and not too much more the second year, it should work out…

    • Why would fWAR be part of the discussion? It doesn’t have any bearing on what McCutchen would earn in arbitration. Plus Span signed between 1-2 years service. You see McCutchen giving up his arb years for $14.25MM and only having a club option for one FA year?

      • Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

        Basically, it’s all about what McCutchen deserves based on what he’s done and going forward as well. Before the season started I wrote an article on this stating that Span (who signed his deal in the middle of 2010 spring training) had already been worth that many wins in pretty much 5/8 of two MLB seasons which was very similar to McCutchen and he had been worth 6.5 wins. If you take out the first month of this season (which looks a bit lousy on McCutchen’s resume even though he’s been really unlucky–a .250 BABIP) McCutchen has almost exactly the same amount of service time and WAR as Span from when Span signed the deal.

        So while maybe Span had been ripped off giving up his arb years at the time, the Pirates would be crazy not to use this as a base. McCutchen and his agent on the other hand have every right to counter with more but judging security, health, and long term $/value (and Carl Crawford as well as the aforementioned Span) McCutchen fits the mold here with that potential contract.

        However, I think the Pirates would have to offer incentives or give him a nice signing bonus to sweeten the deal because as you said, the arb years are hard to give up like that. But we say the same thing about every player and they go for security quite often, so it could at least be something to start with.

        Sent from my iPad

        • It’s less about what he deserves and more about what he would make going year to year. WAR would not be a factor in McCutchen’s arb salaries, and if I was his agent and the Pirates thought they could successfully be the first team to ever use it in an arb hearing I’d invite them to try. And then while the Pirates tried to explain WAR within one hour to a three-person panel of people who usually work on labor union cases, I’d cite comparable players using basic stats and win the case.

          I’m not sure the Pirates agree with you about using publicly available UZR data to rate and project McCutchen’s defense and determine his value. But if they base their offer on that, McCutchen’s only going to take it if he desperately craves security, since that would result in an offer well below what the arbitration process would get him. So sure, they would probably like him to sign a Denard Span deal, but from the player’s point of view that’s a terrible deal.

          • Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

            I really wasn’t saying they WOULD bring it in to the arb room. I said that they SHOULD. Of course, were not at that stage yet where sanermetrics are used in an arb room. It would be inconclusive and a waste to offer McCutchen significantly more than Span regardless of whether or not McCutchen thinks he deserves more. Alas, this is just a comparison.

            However, I can’t think of many reasons why McCutchen would think he deserves more (aside from ego) and want. Realistically, he isn’t much better of a player than what we saw last year. His contact and swing rates aren’t going to improve a great deal and his defense isn’t that good. While sanermetrics are what we use to evaluate players, front office people use their own metrics and what not which can be concluded similarly.

            Perhaps he is a bit overrated but while he’s set to hit arbitration for the first time after ’13, the Pirates are aware of similar comparables.

          • Why do you think bringing sabermetrics to the arb room would be effective?

            Also, is it not possible that UZR is wrong, and McCutchen is a plus on defense? Even if not, it is certainly realistic that he and his agent regard his defense as plus and hence he feels he’s worth way more than Span based on comparisons to Bruce, Upton, even CarGo.

          • Dave_Gershman 4 years ago

            I think the addition of saber metrics would be plenty helpful. Since they’ve been used in other areas of the game such as front office and player development, they’ve been a success. The problem is convincing/explaining to the judges, as you said. But anything to have your points more conclusive whether youre side A or B. I mean, if player Z clearly has his stats inflated by BABIP (luck), you can’t be basing your judgments on that, because player Z clearly isn’t good…so that’s why the team in that sense would be better suited with sabermetrics.

            So educating the judges on sabermetrics would be great because of course McCutchen and his agent are going to use the best McCutchen-friendly stats as possible. In the end, the judges knowing which stats are conclusive and mean something would be best for the situation in general.

            Sent from my iPad

          • AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

            I appreciate the minute detail and fun of analyzing every measurable aspect of a baseball player’s profile, but ultimately it’s about really simple things: Fielding ability, home run power, base running ability, ability to produce RBI’s and batting average/on base percentage. And depending on the player, their age. That’s all. In the end. Because that’s the stuff everybody can understand and can be discussed across a table without it turning into a class.

          • JTT11 4 years ago

            Everybody knows the true measure of a ball player is the relationship between the leght of his dominant clavicle multiplied by the width of his patella then divide that number by the relative mass of his clacaneus.

            Simpletons. all of ya.

        • explodet 4 years ago

          Span was 2 years older than McCutchen is now, when he signed his deal, and has nowhere near as much power as McCutchen. Outside of being centerfielders who are fast (and black), they aren’t really all that comparible.

          There’s no really good comps, honestly. Matt Kemp would be, but he’s only signed for 2 years.

  4. Nice to see the Pirates are actually trying.

  5. AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

    I’d go 3 years/$8.15MM. $1MM signing bonus and salaries of $900K in ’12, $2.25MM in ’13 and $4MM in ’14 one more year of arbitration to see how those go. This gives him some real financial security without keeping up these insane contract trends. Andrew McCutchen is a good player, but he’s no second coming or anything. It’s perfectly fine to lock up a good player without breaking the bank.

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