McCutchen Deal Will Be Discount For Pirates

Premium position players don't come cheap nowadays, and players who combine speed and power seem to be particularly pricey on the free agent market. Andrew McCutchen was destined to be one of those high priced free agents in the near future. Instead, the Pittsburgh Pirates made one of their smartest moves in recent years, inking their 25-year-old center fielder to a 6-year, $51 million extension.

If you were looking to knock Andrew McCutchen, you could point to his miserable September at the plate in 2011. Aside from that, he continued to progress as an all around player last season, further developing into the superstar the Pirates know he can be. He became more of a power threat, as well as the run producer the organization long has expected he could be. Put those offensive skills together with his speed and defense and you have a player that would fetch $100 million on the open market a few years from now if he continued on his current path.

What makes Pittsburgh's deal with McCutchen so team friendly is that they are essentially giving him fair market value for his current levels of production. But, in the next couple years we're likely going to see him playing at a higher and higher level. At just 25, this is a player capable of hitting around .300, stealing 30 bases, and hitting 25 home runs. That type of player commands far more than approximately $8 million annually. And, if he does develop on that path, they also have a very significant seventh year team option that they'd be more than happy to pick up when the time comes.

McCutchen's deal is similar to the deals Jay Bruce and Justin Upton received in recent memory. Like those players, he has the upside to make the deal look like absolutely robbery. And, in a worst case scenario where Pittsburgh's star center fielder doesn't develop further, they are simply paying fair market value for his current production in center field. Chances are, however, Pittsburgh will be looking back at this deal in a few years as a major key in their potential rebound as an organization.

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