Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweets that the Pirates want the potential Andrew McCutchen extension they’re discussing to be “at least” five years.
This is significant mostly because Andrew McCutchen is slated to become a free agent after 2015. So if the Pirates signed him to a four-year deal, as an earlier report stated, that would cover the 2012 through 2015 seasons, meaning McCutchen would become a free agent at exactly the same time. That might actually make McCutchen less likely to stick with the Pirates any longer than he had to, because he would already be set for life and would know that he could just seek a huge payday elsewhere if he waited until after 2015.
So there could be two solutions for the Pirates. One would be to take him year to year. The advantage of doing so would be that McCutchen wouldn’t get his big contract, meaning that he would have at least some incentive to sign an extension with the Pirates at a later date. Or, better, the Bucs could pursue the extension talks but insist on keeping McCutchen for at least another year as a condition of doing so. That appears to be what they’re doing, and good for them.