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Andrew McCutchen, Pirates Talking About New Contract

Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in contract talks with star center fielder Andrew McCutchen. This is less significant news than it might appear to be, since the deal that the two sides are negotiating would not buy out any of McCutchen's free agency years.

The most likely type of extension would be one that carries McCutchen through next season, plus his three arbitration years. He still would be eligible for free agency in 2016, based on his current status.

Because teams currently control young players' right through their first six full seasons (and this oversimplifies things somewhat, but let's just use that as a starting point), the Pirates already owned the rights to McCutchen through 2015. This extension apparently will not include any years beyond that. Nor, obviously, will it guarantee that McCutchen will actually remain a Pirate through 2015, unless the contract includes a no-trade clause, which is highly unlikely. Jason Bay signed a four-year contract with the Pirates a few years back, for example, but was traded to the Red Sox two-and-a-half years into the deal.

So why do it at all? Well, McCutchen gets to guarantee that he'll be set for life, and the Pirates will pay him a bit less than they would if they went year-to-year.They'll also get the certainty of knowing how much they'll have to pay several years in advance.

Based on recent contracts given to players such as Matt Kemp and Curtis Granderson whose performance levels and career circumstances were broadly similar to McCutchen's now, this contract would probably be for four years (that is, through 2015), and something like $18-22 million.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.