Andrew McCutchen Rumors

Pirates Want Five Or More Years On McCutchen Deal

The Pirates are talking to center fielder Andrew McCutchen about an extension, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, and they're insisting on at least a five-year deal.  That's another way of saying they want to buy out at least one free agent year, which comes as no surprise.  As noted in our agency database, McCutchen is represented by Steve Hammond of Aegis Sports Management.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported eight days ago that the two sides are in talks but no agreement was imminent.  I mentioned at that time that I expect a six-year term, and I feel that McCutchen deserves $52MM or more based on comparable contracts.


NL Central Notes: Reds, Friedman, McCutchen

Links from the NL Central, before Pirates starter Kevin Correia pitches against his former teammates in San Diego…

  • The Reds signed left-handed reliever James Adkins and catcher James Skelton to minor league deals, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Adkins, 25, has a 4.76 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in parts of five minor league seasons. Skelton, also 25, has a .267/.396/.368 line in parts of seven minor league seasons.
  • The Reds also activated Fred Lewis from the disabled list and optioned Jeremy Hermida to Triple-A, according to the Associated Press (via the Boston Herald).
  • The father of Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman is involved with a group that has interest in buying the Astros, but Friedman says those dealings don’t impact his job in Tampa Bay, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
  • Andrew McCutchen left no doubt that he wants to continue playing for the Pirates when speaking to Jared Macdonald of The Good Point. "I plan on being here, that's the mindset. This is where I want to be, " he said. "I don't want to go anywhere, and I'm going to be here for as long as they want me to be here." The Pirates are discussing an extension with McCutchen, though no agreement appears imminent.

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."

McCutchen

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.



Extension Candidate: Andrew McCutchen

When the Reds inked Jay Bruce to a six-year extension earlier this month, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review took the opportunity to examine how the contract could affect Andrew McCutchen. While the Pirates have not yet discussed a multiyear extension with their center fielder, Biertempfel suggested that McCutchen's value would be similar to Bruce's.

The more appropriate comparison for McCutchen might actually be the player whose contract Bruce's appeared to be modeled after – Justin Upton and his six-year, $51.25MM extension. When Upton signed the extension last winter, he had posted a career slash line of .272/.350/.485 in 1157 plate appearances. At the time, McCutchen acknowledged his track record in the majors wasn't as strong as that of the Diamondbacks' outfielder, but after a strong 2010 season, the gap has closed. McCutchen's current .286/.365/.459 line, in 1146 plate appearances, matches up well with Upton's pre-2010 numbers. Upton exhibited a little more power (43 HR to McCutchen's 28), and played better defense, according to UZR. However, McCutchen plays the more challenging position in the outfield, and is more dangerous on the basepaths (55 SB to Upton's 23).

While Upton, Bruce, and McCutchen are all comparable talents, performance and potential aren't the only factors the Pirates will take into consideration when deciding whether to extend McCutchen. One difference between Upton's and Bruce's deals involves service time – Upton had acculumated just over two years of major league time when he inked his extension, meaning the first of the six years was a pre-arbitration season. As such, his contract covers just two free agent years, while Bruce's covers three, with a club option for the fourth.

Heading into the 2011 campaign, McCutchen has racked up one year and 123 days of service time, which poses an interesting dilemma for both the Pirates and McCutchen's representation. This fall, Bruce was among the group of players who became arbitration eligible early by achieving Super Two status; this year's cutoff was just two years and 122 days of service time. If the cutoff is similar in 2011, McCutchen could become arbitration eligible as early as 2012, which would have a significant impact on Pittsburgh's payroll going forward. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the 24-year-old's status, the two sides may choose to wait for some clarity before seriously discussing a long-term deal.

The more pressing question than the issue of service time though is whether the Pirates will even be willing to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50MM in a multiyear extension. Players who have roamed the Pittsburgh outfield in recent years, such as Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Xavier Nady, have all eventually been traded before their salaries became exorbitant.

Such an extension for McCutchen wouldn't be entirely unprecedented though. Ten years ago, the Pirates agreed to a six-year, $60MM deal with Jason Kendall, the largest contract in team history. And while they haven't committed nearly that much money to a player in recent years, the club has exhibited a willingness to spend some cash; they've committed big money on the amateur draft and, as MLBTR's transaction tracker shows, have added a handful of major league free agents this month. Perhaps, with youngsters like Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Neil Walker now playing at the big league level, and with plenty of promising minor league talent on the way, Pittsburgh would be inclined to keep their core intact by locking up McCutchen, the relative veteran of the group.

For now, the bet here is that the Pirates wait to verify whether or not McCutchen will become a Super Two. Regardless of when he becomes eligible for arbitration, the 24-year-old will be under team control through 2015, which should give the two sides plenty of time to talk.


Odds & Ends: Rivera, Mets, Bruce, Orioles, Dodgers

Links for Sunday….


Odds & Ends: Guerrier, McCutchen, Blue Jays, Punto

As the baseball world says goodbye to Cubs great Ron Santo, here are some news tidbits heading into the weekend…


Pirates Rumors: Correia, Accardo, Duchscherer

4:05pm: The Pirates are interested in Kevin Correia, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

3:25pm: The Pirates are aggressively pursuing Accardo, according to Kovacevic (on Twitter).

2:51pm: The latest on the Pirates:


Huntington On Rotation, Doumit, McCutchen

Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington describes the market for available starters as "thin," but says the Pirates "need" to upgrade their rotation. Huntington told MLBTR that he is mindful of pitching prospects such as Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris, Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie and Luis Heredia who are rising through the Pirates system. But they won't prevent him from offering multi-year deals to free agents.

"We're not opposed to multi-year deals for the right player," Huntington said. "But what we can't do is vastly overpay in terms of years and/or dollars just to get somebody … to make ourselves feel better in November. We've got to pay players for what they're going to do, not what they've done."

The Pirates don't have a distinct preference for left-handers or right-handers. Ideally, they'd get a pitcher who can strike people out, but as Huntington points out, every other team wants just that. Recent reports suggest the Pirates are interested in former Rockies lefties Jeff Francis and Jorge de la Rosa

Former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, now the Pirates' skipper, has not yet discussed Ryan Doumit's 2011 role with Huntington in detail. At this point, Huntington says the Pirates can see him filling a number of roles in 2011.

"We've got the ability to have him catch some; he can be the complement to Chris Snyder; he's got the ability with some Spring Training work to maybe go play some at first and then also the opportunity to go play out in right field. So he's got some versatility," Huntington said.

Huntington declined to comment specifically on Andrew McCutchen, but he acknowledged that the Pirates generally have interest in giving top players security with extensions that cover some free agent seasons. 


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Gonzalez, Pirates, Elias

On this date way back in 1976, the Mariners and Blue Jays each selected 30 players in the expansion draft. Seattle drafted outfielder Ruppert Jones from the Royals with the first pick, then Toronto grabbed the versatile Bob Bailor from the Orioles with the second pick. The full results of the expansion draft can be found here.

We had to do some expanding of our own this week – get ready for what I'm certain is the largest BBWI in MLBTR history…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


2005 Draft Throwdown

While dreams are coming true for hundreds of high school and college players this week, let's compare the paths of some 2005 first round draft picks. Nothing is more interesting than seeing how teams did choosing players at the same position. In a draft, it is the closest teams come to the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Meanwhile, those lists haunt fans' memories for years to come.

  • Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) vs. Ryan Braun (Brewers): This battle between Zimmerman, picked fourth, and Braun, picked fifth, was to be a test of hot corner prowess. But while Zimmerman has excelled at the position, winning a Gold Glove in 2009 and grading well under more advanced defensive metrics, Braun settled in left field after proving to be a disastrous fielder at third base. So far, Braun has a .931 to .836 edge in OPS, but with Zimmerman putting up an .888 in 2009 and at .986 so far in 2010, that gap may well have disappeared. Moving forward, the edge goes to Zimmerman, a terrific hitter, though a notch below Braun, but a far more valuable defensive player. Both teams won here, though.
  • Cameron Maybin (Tigers) vs. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates): These high school center fielders went back-to-back, with Maybin going tenth and McCutchen going 11th. The early returns suggest that the Tigers made a poor choice here, though they ultimately packaged Maybin in a deal for Miguel Cabrera, so they're not exactly complaining. McCutchen has hit since he arrived in Pittsburgh last season, and a 23-year-old with an .847 OPS in his first 733 major league plate appearances stands an awfully good chance of being an elite player for years to come. Maybin is still immensely talented, and could turn into a star- but McCutchen already is one. Pirates win- how often do you get to read that?
  • Craig Hansen (Red Sox) vs. Joey Devine (Braves): This throwdown is a lesson in the perils of college pitchers. They seem like sure things, compared to high schoolers, and from the start, the Red Sox and Braves thought they had their ninth-innings mapped out for years to come. Hansen, drafted 26th out of St. John's, has yet to find command at the major league level, with 63 walks against 70 strikeouts in 93.2 innings. The right-hander was one of the moving parts in the three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles. Hansen's troubles were baffling, until the discovery of a degenerative nerve condition that has his career in doubt. Devine, chosen 27th, got traded to Oakland for Mark Kotsay, so Atlanta didn't benefit much from choosing him, either. The Athletics got a fantastic 2008 out of Devine- a 0.59 ERA in 45.2 innings with 49 strikeouts. Tommy John surgery kept him out for 2009, but he is currently on track to return to Oakland by the end of June. Winner here? Clearly, the Athletics.