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One deal done. What’s next?

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Last week, Andrew McCutchen signed for fans. Soon, he'll put his signature on a six-year contract.

Last week, Andrew McCutchen signed for fans. Soon, he'll put his signature on a six-year contract.

BRADENTON, Fla. — The agreement between the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen on a six-year, $51.5 million contract was more than two years in the making and is part of an effort by the club to lock up its core players to multi-year deals.

Sometime early in 2010, the Pirates began working with the agents for McCutchen and Neil Walker on long-term contracts. The talks went in fits and starts, with periods of intense negotiation followed by weeks or even months of limited contact. At the time, the Pirates figured Walker might be easier to sign. If Walker came to terms first, the team would try to use that as leverage in talks with McCutchen. It didn’t work that way, as McCutchen has accepted a six-year, $51.5-million deal. The complication with Walker is that he will gain Super Two status after this season, meaning he will gain an extra year of arbitration eligibility — a bit of leverage for the player to hike the value of a long-term contract.

Now that McCutchen’s deal is done, the Pirates will shift their focus to Walker. It probably will be pricier than they originally expected — Walker has never indicated he will give a hometown discount — but the Pirates will give Walker his big contract. It will be a win-win for both sides: Walker, like McCutchen, gets money and security. The Pirates will ink a marquee player, which will satisfy the fan base and (more importantly) catch the attention of potential free agents around the league as well as prospects in the Pirates’ system.

McCutchen is the fourth Pirates player signed beyond this season, and two others also could return on contract options. Last August, Jose Tabata got a six-year, $15-million extension. Clint Barmes is signed for $5.5 million. The Pirates will pay $8 million of the $16.5 A.J. Burnett will earn next year. The team undoubtedly will pick up its option for 2013 on Pedro Alvarez. There also is a $3.5-million club option in Rod Barajas’ contract, which is a less likely proposition.

Who else could be in line for a longer contract? The Pirates could look to the future with Alvarez, if they’re ready for another round of talks with Scott Boras. Charlie Morton, perhaps. He’ll make $2.445 million this season and has two years of arby left. James McDonald is still trying to establish himself, so he might prefer to wait and at least start the arbitration process. Casey McGehee is an intriguing possibility, but a longshot. He first must prove his performance dip last season was a fluke. Probably not Joel Hanrahan. He’s already making $4.1 million with a year of arby to go. Too pricey.

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Comments

  1. Chuck H. says:

    Andrew McCutchen deserves the contract he got, because he is the best player on the Pirates roster, and the rest of the players should realize this and go out and do their best. Management knows talent and they try to reward players who excel at their positions.
    Meanwhile, back in Milwaukee, didn’t Ryan Brawn get away with a major crime against baseball? He was tested and found to be guilty of using an illegal substance, but, somehow, he cheated his way out of a bad situation. I guess being player of the year helps. GO, BUCS!!!

  2. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Good signing…more to come? I would think Neil Walker is next Rob.

    Rob-What about extending Joel for 2-3 years?

  3. Harry says:

    Rob, Can you ask Neal where he stands with his extention? Thanks.

  4. PoorPanthers 2012 says:

    Kudos to the buccos for the signing and a clear sign towards a true committment to winning in pgh…not the sally league, the pcl or the ny penn league. There is still the most important component to come tho…they have to WIN something.

  5. Van Man says:

    Meek is toast. Another ‘roids casualty.

  6. Write Stuff says:

    Glad to see Bedard fall flat on his face out of the gate. This team is full of bad apples and lousy pitchers as it is. Don’t need another one.

  7. Lady Di says:

    Cutch was piss-poor after the All-Star break last year. No more excuses.

  8. Ryan(Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    Ha Ha Ha……….thanks Van Man, I needed that.

  9. BigDaddyHoss says:

    How is Pedro at the point of next season being an option year? They should control his rights for six full seasons.

  10. Paul says:

    As good as it is to see the effort to sign McCutchen to a long term deal finally pay off, it’s equally disturbing to hear what’s being said about a potential deal for Walker. It’s unfortunate to see the Pirates are apparently buying into their own hype about Walker and preparing to make the same mistake they did with Jack Wilson and to a lesser extent Freddy Sanchez and give out a contract that will pay him well in excess of his actual value to the team that will ultimately handcuff them when it comes time to spend money as better and more valuable players become available to them.

    Sorry to tell the fans but Neil Walker is not a great player by any stretch of the imagination no matter many times the broadcasting crew(s) and local cheerleaders like Dejean Kovacevic say he is. He’s a average hitting and average fielding second baseman which isn’t a bad thing to have but over paying for him would be. If the Pirates want to sign the guy to keep him around that’s one thing but all the talk of “big contracts,” home town discounts and the idea that he’s in the same class as Andrew McCutchen is just ridiculous.

    Just like Jack Wilson and Sanchez before him nobody outside Pittsburgh is going to be throwing large amounts of cash at a free agent Neil Walker because middling quality middle infielders like Walker are just not that hard to come by and nobody outside Pittsburgh sees the value the locals do and if he ends up getting anything in the neighborhood of what McCutchen did mid-way through the life of the contract the front office will be kicking itself in the rear and trying to find ways to unload it.

  11. Chris says:

    Paul,
    What is being said about Walker’s potential deal? All I’ve heard is that it is the next on the list… Nobody has said Neil is going to get overpaid. The Pirates didn’t really overpay for Mccutchen’s contract, so I have no reason to expect them to overpay for Walker.

  12. Paul says:

    These comments in the article are pretty indicative of what’s being said by a lot of people…

    “It probably will be pricier than they originally expected — Walker has never indicated he will give a hometown discount — but the Pirates will give Walker his big contract.”

    The very notion of a “hometown discount” is a PR ploy by Walker’s buddies in the media to drive up his price, the same way they didn with Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez with the implication being that as a free agent he’d be highly sought after and the team should expect to have to throw a ton of money at him to get him to stay… it’s just a bunch of nonsense.

    And I didn’t mean to imply they over paid for McCutchen, the deal is very fair given McCutchen’s value to the team and how he compares to other centerfielders but the fact that keep mentioning Walker in the same breath as McCutchen indicates that some people think Walker and McCutchen are equally valuable which by any objective measure they are not.

    What does Rob mean by Walker’s “big contract” who knows but if it’s any where near the numbers contained in McCutchen’s it would be a huge mistake.

    Signing Walker should only be a priority for the team ONLY if he’s giving a hometown discount because replacing him at a reasonable price just wouldn’t be that difficult a chore.

  13. Lady Di says:

    If Fat Pedro doesn’t deliver this season, his next move should be out the door.

  14. John Lease says:

    Neil Walker hasn’t done anything yet to deserve a long term deal, in my opinion. He’s not a plus defender yet, and is about average offensively. On the Pirates he’s definitely the second best position player, but that not that great, league wide. If he has a good season this year, then it is worth considering.

  15. Gray says:

    Paul,

    Your response to Chris sold me. Although I think a little more highly of Walker’s hitting than u do, it’s nice to see someone make a point without anger. Great job, particularly in the first paragraph.

  16. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    No reason to give Walker a big contract, yet. IMO, he’s a utiility guy. He doesn’t have the glove to stay at second, he doesn’t have the bat for catcher and he’s a debacle at third.

    So, why would we extend him right now?

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