According to a tweet from Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Andrew McCutchen have agreed to a contract extension that will pay the center fielder $51.5 million over six years. The deal also includes a club option for a seventh year at $14.75 million.
The extension is incredibly similar to the six year $51.25 million contract that Just Upton signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in March of 2010. That deal bought out Upton’s final year before arbitration, three arbitration years and first two years of free agency. Likewise, after narrowly missing out on Super Two status, McCutchen’s new contract covers his final season before arbitration, his three years of salary arbitration, and first two years of free agency, locking him up until at least the 2018 season.
It’s a very good deal for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Although Upton may have the better reputation, he and McCutchen are very comparable offensively, with the Diamondbacks’ young stud having slightly more power and the Pirates’ young superstar putting up better on base numbers. However, considering that McCutchen took an enormous stride forward with his defense in center field this past season, it’s easy to make an argument that McCutchen is a more valuable asset than Upton playing a corner outfield spot.
Consider this: after his first three seasons in the league, McCutchen already ranks among the best hitting center fielders in the game. During that time, only three other players who play full time in center were able to put up better weighted on base averages: Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Kemp. That’s not bad company to be in, especially for a player who has just over two full years of service time.