Andrew McCutchen Rumors
On this day in baseball history in 1957, Giants president Horace Stoneham violated baseball's protocol for announcements about teams relocating to new cities by failing to wait until after the World Series. Stoneham cited declining attendance to the press as to why the Giants were headed to San Francisco to play their home games for the following season. The team's board of directors approved the move by the vote of 8-1 with M. Donald Grant casting the lone dissenting vote. Grant would later go on to become the chairman of the expansion Mets.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league...
- Melky Cabrera's suspension ensures that the beleaguered outfielder won't see the field again until the playoffs, but that doesn't mean he can't win the NL batting title, writes Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com. Doyel suggests MLB commissioner Bud Selig should intervene and prevent Cabrera from receiving the award if he finishes the season with the highest batting average in the league. Andrew McCutchen currently leads the NL with a .356 average entering Sunday's action as compared to Cabrera's .346 mark with 43 games to go.
- The Mets may have a trade partner for Johan Santana this offseason if the left-hander can regain the strong form he's occasionally displayed this season, opines Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino looks at the Dodgers as a possible fit for the former two-time Cy Young winner given their newly-minted deep wallets. With Santana guaranteed over $25MM next season, the Mets may elect to keep their struggling ace rather than pay $20MM to watch him pitch for another team.
- Bobby Valentine never had a chance as the manager of the Red Sox given the state of the franchise from top to bottom, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. When Boston brought Valentine aboard to replace Terry Francona this offseason, it was getting a brilliant baseball mind who could identify talent at an expert level but was prone to a soap opera from time to time. As Heyman puts it, the Red Sox never should have hired Valentine if they were just going to cut his vocal chords mere months later in the wake of the Kevin Youkilis incident.
- McCutchen turned down two contract offers before agreeing to terms with the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
- The Pirates figured that Walker would be easier to sign than McCutchen earlier on in the negotiating process. A source close to the Walker-Pirates talks tells Biertempfel that a lot of work needs to be done on a possible agreement.
- It sounds like the Pirates won't work out an extension with Walker in the immediate future, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said Pirates fans don’t have to worry that the club will flip McCutchen for prospects, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. “We are now well beyond the talent-accumulation phase,” Huntington said. “We're into the championship, Major League team-building phase." Huntington also pointed out that in baseball there’s no LeBron James or Sidney Crosby to come in and save a franchise more or less on his own.
- Heyman writes that he doesn't consider McCutchen a $51.5MM player yet, though Pirates people expect him to become one.
Andrew McCutchen is officially the face of the Pirates through at least 2017. The team announced his new six-year contract today, which reportedly guarantees $51.5MM and has a seventh year club option. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the salary breakdown.
McCutchen's contract buys out his final pre-arbitration year, all three arbitration years, and a pair of free agent seasons with a club option for another. The Pirates now control their young superstar through the 2017 or 2018, having previously controlled him through 2015.
The 25-year-old, represented by Steve Hammond of Aegis Sports Management, has just two fewer days of service time than Jay Bruce did when he signed nearly the same deal -- six years and $51MM. Likewise, Justin Upton had less than three years of service time when the Diamondbacks locked him up for six years and $51.25MM. The Pirates, like the Reds, were able to secure a club option, which Arizona failed to do in Upton's case. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined McCutchen's case last May, noting how he'd played significantly more games than Upton and deserved at least as much money.
Pittsburgh selected McCutchen with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft. He debuted as a 22-year-old in 2009, and has since tallied 420 big league games while hitting a strong .276/.365/.458 with 51 homers and 78 steals. Ultimate zone rating hasn't been kind to McCutchen's defense thus far in his career, but he did post a positive mark for the first time in 2011, checking in with a UZR/150 of +3.3.
The Pirates have long been interested in locking McCutchen up, and now should have two-thirds of their outfield set for many years. Last August, the team secured a multi-year deal with Jose Tabata as well, inking a six-year guarantee with club options that run through the 2019 season.
As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, general manager Neal Huntington has architected multi-year deals in the past for Tabata, Nate McLouth, Freddy Sanchez, Paul Maholm, Matt Capps, and Ian Snell, though none of those deals were anywhere near this magnitude. McCutchen's guarantee falls just shy of Jason Kendall's record for the largest contract in franchise history; Kendall received $60MM over six years back in November of 2000.
Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first broke news of McCutchen's contract Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
The Pirates put a finishing touch on their offseason yesterday, agreeing to terms with Andrew McCutchen on a six year, $51.5MM contract extension. Here's the latest on the Pirates, starting with some reactions to the McCutchen deal...
- Neil Walker told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Pittsburgh is lucky to have McCutchen under long-term control (all Twitter links). Walker, an extension candidate himself, told Sanserino that he'd also like to sign a long-term deal with the Pirates. So far extension talks haven’t gone very far, according to Walker.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs agrees with Walker, writing that Pirates fans should "dance in the streets" to celebrate the contract that will keep McCutchen in Pittsburgh for his prime.
- Nate McLouth and Charlie Morton were also pleased to see the deal completed, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the yearly breakdown of McCutchen's contract (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney told Joe Giardina of Pittsburgh Sports Report that the Pirates are having trouble luring free agents to Pittsburgh. "They seem to be picking from just a different menu than some of the other teams," Olney said.
- Olney added that Pedro Alvarez is the most important player to the 2012 Pirates since he could break out into a star or continue to struggle.
- Marshall will earn $4.5MM in 2013, $5.5MM in 2014, and $6.5MM in 2015 according to the AP (via John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer on Twitter). The southpaw can earn $1MM more per year if he closes for the Reds.
- “We’re obviously very excited about it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon) about Marshall's deal. “When we made the trade for him, we made it intending to extend him. We felt confident we would do that. We wanted to approach it sooner than later.”
- The Pirates are still willing to work out a long-term extension with Andrew McCutchen, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. McCutchen's camp is looking for something close to the $51MM given to Justin Upton while the club is coming in around $10MM below that.
- Jeff Francis told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his final decision came between the Reds and Mets (Twitter link). The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati last month.
- "We saw this coming years ago," said Pirates team president Frank Coonelly to Biertempfel when asked about the new draft spending restrictions. "We pushed money up to make sure we'd be taking advantage of opportunities we had last year and the year before."
MLB has announced that Tony La Russa will manage the NL team during the All-Star Game in 2012, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). La Russa retired from managing earlier this offseason, but he'll continue the tradition of the pennant winning managers from the prior year managing the two All-Star clubs. Here's the latest from around the league...
- Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post reports that Ryan Zimmerman is open to a creative contract extension that would allow the Nationals to build a strong team around him. "We want to do a deal so it helps me and the team at the same time, so they can go out and sign guys like Prince Fielder or other free agents," said Zimmerman. Fielder is off the table now, and the Nats know what it'll take to sign their star third baseman long-term.
- "Never say never," said Pirates GM Neal Huntington to Jeff Nelson and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio when asked about a potential Andrew McCutchen trade. "If someone wants to back up the truck and give us one of those organization-altering deals, it's something that we'd have to listen to...It would have to be a dramatic overpay on the part of the other club."
- The Nationals consider Yoenis Cespedes a corner outfielder or even a first baseman, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). Earlier today we learned that Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and now awaits MLB's approval to become a free agent.
- The Indians are "making the necessary moves to get [Robert Hernandez Heredia] to the United States," reports the AP (via ESPN). Heredia, better known as Fausto Carmona, faces a judicial process in the Dominican Republic after lying about his identity.
- Twins top prospect Miguel Sano has changed representation according to SI.com's Melissa Segura (on Twitter). He is now with SFX agent Troy Caradonna.
Talks about a long-term contract extension between the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen didn't progress much this summer, but GM Neal Huntington told fans that he's "optimistic" about reaching an agreement with the star outfielder at PirateFest yesterday, reports Bill Brink of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"When you enter a negotiation, you're at X, the player's at Z and you work awfully hard to try to find Y," said Huntington. "There has to be a compromise, there has to be a shared risk on both sides."
Back in May we heard that the team wants at least five years in a McCutchen extension, meaning they want to buy out at least one year of free agency. The 25-year-old is a .276/.365/.458 career hitter in his two-plus big league seasons, which is comparable to the .272/.350/.485 line Justin Upton owned when he signed his six-year, $52.25MM deal prior to the 2010 season. A contract along those lines is reasonable for McCutchen, a first-time All-Star in 2011.
Happy birthday to Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who turns 33 on December 17. Utley is looking to rebound from his most disappointing full season in the majors, as he posted just a .769 OPS and didn't play until May 23 due to an unusual knee injury.
Some news from around baseball as we head into the weekend...
- Carlos Beltran has at least one offer worth $10MM per year on the table, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. With the Rockies out of the picture after signing Michael Cuddyer, Beltran's known market includes the Blue Jays, Cardinals and two mystery teams.
- Responding to fans on his Twitter feed, Omar Vizquel says he plans to play in 2012, isn't returning to the White Sox and would "go now" if the Giants offered him a one-year deal (all links are via Twitter).
- Pirates players and officials took part in a Q&A period at today's Piratefest fan event and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was there to tweet some pertinent hot stove information. Manager Clint Hurdle said the team is still interested in re-signing Derrek Lee and team president Frank Coonelly said the Pirates were prepared for the cap on draft signings in the new collective bargaining agreement.
- Reggie Willits intends to play in 2012 and has discussed opporunities with MLB teams, tweets MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
- GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates want to keep Andrew McCutchen "as long as we can (but) we've got to be smart about it" (via Biertempfel's Twitter account). McCutchen's name was floated in trade rumors earlier this winter but they were quickly shot down by Bucs management.
- The Tigers should keep pursuing Gio Gonzalez, writes John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press, even though he doesn't think the Tigers would deal the Athletics' asking price of prospects (Jacob Turner, Drew Smyly and Nick Castellanos) "for any one player."
- The Rule 5 draft is losing relevance and could soon be abandoned "in history's dustbin," writes Baseball America's John Manuel.
- The Astros, Athletics, Cubs, Padres and White Sox are "the five most intriguing sellers" in baseball according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, who lists each club's biggest trade chips and what teams could fit as trade partners.
7:03pm: A high-ranking Pirates person told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team hasn't entertained offers for McCutchen to this point and has no plans to do so. Kovacevic's piece strongly suggests McCutchen is staying in Pittsburgh.
5:20pm: Andrew McCutchen is not untouchable, but he's about as close as it gets. The Pirates will at least listen to offers for the center fielder, though they would have to be blown away to move him, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law.
The Pirates discussed a potential extension with McCutchen earlier in the year, though talks slowed later in the summer. McCutchen posted a .259/.364/.456 line in 678 plate appearances this past season, setting a career high with 23 home runs. The 25-year-old made his first All-Star team, posting an OPS over .800 for the third time in as many big league seasons.
Justin Upton may be the best comparable for McCutchen, both in terms of trade value and contract discussions. The Diamondbacks listened to offers for the right fielder last offseason, ultimately holding on and enjoying MVP-caliber production. Upton signed a six-year, $51.25MM contract in 2010 that could serve as a model for the Pirates. McCutchen narrowly missed super two status this offseason and is under team control through 2015.
The division has been clinched, but the NL Central games today are still very much worth monitoring. The Brewers are a game up on the Diamondbacks in the race for first-round homefield, while the Cardinals need to win today's rubber match against the Cubs to stay on the Braves' heels in the Wild Card race. Here are the rest of today's items of interest out of the NL Central:
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that today's contest could be Albert Pujols' last home game as a Cardinal. Strauss goes on to preview the upcoming Pujols negotiations, noting that the Cards aren't currently inclined to top the nine years and annual figure of $22-$22.5MM they offered last winter.
- Strauss goes on to say that the Cardinals are "wary of bidding against themselves," meaning they likely wouldn't increase last year's offer until they have a better idea of their competition for Pujols.
- Extension talks will resume between the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen this winter, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel hears from team and industry sources that the Pirates will likely offer a six-year deal with a club option.
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times ranks the best of the upcoming free agent class, with the NL Central duo of Pujols and Prince Fielder occupying two of the top three spots.