Andrew McCutchen Rumors

NL Central Notes: McCutchen, Astros, Berkman

Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel reports that MLB has suspended Brewers right-hander Mark Rogers 25 games for a second positive test for a stimulant in violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rogers' season was already over due to carpal tunnel syndrome, however. Here's the latest from baseball's only six-team division. ..

Pirates Notes: McCutchen, Catching Help

Let's check out a handful of Pirates-related links, as Kevin Correia and the Bucs look to get back to .500 today against the Mets….

  • Extension talks between Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates haven't progressed recently, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. According to Kovacevic, both sides appear open to a deal, and an offer that buys out a year or two of the outfielder's free agent years may still be on the table. Money is a separator, however.
  • We heard yesterday that teams are hoping to take advantage of the Pirates' lack of backstop depth by making Pittsburgh overpay to acquire a catcher. Manager Clint Hurdle discussed this dilemma with Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Everybody knows the situation we're in. So, when you ask, we're getting some sticker shock…. It's the nature of the industry, like the shark that smells blood."
  • More from Hurdle on the team's need for catching help: "I know [GM Neal Huntington is] working overtime, I'm making calls, everyone's trying to check on who's available. We remain guardedly optimistic. We don't want to sacrifice the future for a fit right now, but the realism of the fit is pretty sincere…. I'm looking at how we are going to cover the next 35 to 40 games."
  • Despite the Pirates' pitching woes over the last two decades, there are reasons to be optimistic about the arms in the organization, writes Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Pirates Notes: McCutchen, Heredia, Ascanio

The Pirates have won just one of Paul Maholm's eight starts this year, but the left-hander and his 3.60 ERA aren't to blame. Pittsburgh has averaged 1.5 runs per game with Maholm on the hill, including last night's shutout at the hands of the Dodgers. Here's the latest on the Pirates…

  • Jim Bowden of explains that he believes the Pirates should move now to lock Andrew McCutchen long term. Since McCutchen hasn't fully realized his potential, the Pirates could save on an extension and pay him Justin Upton money ($51.25MMM) instead of Carlos Gonzalez money ($80MM). Plus, it would be a positive for fans and other players, Bowden argues. The Pirates have discussed a long-term deal with their center fielder and hope to sign him for five years or more.
  • Tim Dierkes says he expects a six-year deal for McCutchen, who probably won't have to settle for less than $52MM.
  • Pirates prospect Luis Heredia is just 16 years old, but he looks closer to 20, according to Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News. The right-hander retired rehabbing catcher Carlos Ruiz in extended Spring Training, much to the delight of his mother.
  • John Grupp of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review chronicles Jose Ascanio's long path back to the Pirates roster. The right-hander, who was acquired as part of the 2009 Tom Gorzelanny trade, is back in Pittsburgh after a two-year absence.

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."


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: