Early this morning it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates and outfielder Andrew McCutchen came to terms on a 6 year deal worth $51.25 million dollars. There’s also a team option for $14.75 million dollar option, making the total contract 7 years, for $66 million dollars. In short this was a fantastic deal for both sides. Andrew McCutchen got paid, and the Pirates locked up their stud outfielder for the foreseeable future.
Andrew McCutchen is one of the up and coming stars of Major League Baseball, and after two and a half really good seasons McCutchen finally got what he deserved. Since his debut in his 2009 he has been one of the fifteen best outfielders in all of baseball, posting 12.9 WAR. That total is higher than Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Hunter Pence to name a few. Being only 25 years old he should continue to get better.
At 24 years old McCutchen had about as an impressive season as a 24 year old could have. He showed excellent plate discipline, striking out only 18% of the time, and walk over 13% of the time. Besides his good eye, he’s shown good power potential, his ISO was .198, which has been the highest of his career so far. Despite his speed, he hasn’t shown to be a good defensive center fielder quite yet. His arm strength is pretty weak, a move to left field could be possible in the future.
Age and ability wise there are two players who had a very similar situation to McCutchen’s. In December 2010 the Cincinnati Reds signed Jay Bruce to a 6 year deal for $51 million dollars, and a team option for $13 million dollars. Bruce was two years younger than McCutchen was when he signed his big deal, and so far has been easily worth it.
Seven months earlier, Arizona Diamondbacks phenom Justin Upton to a 6 year, $51.25 million dollar deal. Exactly the same to McCutchen’s, minus the team option. Both players are extremely similar, but Justin Upton has much better power, and has shown to be the better defender. Going forward both will be key pieces to their team’s success.
Andrew McCutchen hasn’t even entered his prime, and has shown he has the talent to be an all-star caliber player. If the Pirates can get lucky with some of the their minor league prospects, and get continue to sign their young players to team friendly deals, they could eventually contend. A lot of things have to fall in place though, but you can put a check mark next to signing Andrew McCutchen long term.