Despite being under contract till the 2018 season, McCutchen is already arguably the greatest center fielder in Pirates history. He is the closest thing to a franchise player since Barry Bonds was in a Pirate uniform.
The Pirates and owner Bob Nutting are looking to the future, and want their star to be apart of the long-term success of the franchise.
“There are no active talks at this time. However, industry sources said that if the Pirates decide to open talks, they are willing to go to great lengths to keep McCutchen in Pittsburgh, even if the numbers approach the current salary stratosphere of $25 million-plus per year.”
The 28-year-old hit .314 with 25 HR, and 83 RBI last season in 146 games. McCutchen is considered one of the best players in baseball, yet he is also one of the biggest bargains. His annual salary of $8.58 million doesn’t even rank in the top fifty of outfielders.
So on one hand it makes sense to pay Cutch now, and keep him in Pittsburgh for a long time.
However, there is an argument to be made that extending McCutchen right now doesn’t make sense. If he was in the last year of his current deal, then it would make sense because the Pirates don’t want him to hit free agency.
That’s not the case. His $51.5 million deal runs through the 2017 season, with a $14.75 million dollar club option for 2018. By the time that his current deal ends, he will be thirty-two years old, and if the Pirates decide to extend him now, it will run past his prime.
There are too many examples of bad contracts out there that are similar to what the Pirates want to do: Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander just to name a couple. The Pirates should wait till his current contract ends, and then make a decision about an extension.