Extending Andrew McCutchen Does Not Make Sense
There is no questioning what Andrew McCutchen brings to the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 28 years of age, McCutchen has already put up a resume that would be the envy of most major league players for their careers. He has made four All-Star games, won three Silver Slugger awards, an MVP and a Gold Glove. He is widely considered to be one of the best players in all of baseball, in the same conversation as Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. He is a true game changing superstar, the likes of which the Pirates have not had since Barry Bonds left town.
It certainly makes sense that the Pirates would want to lock McCutchen up for as long as possible. After all, he is already their second best center fielder in team history, and with a few more years, could become the greatest of all time. With that thought in mind, even though McCutchen is already locked up through the 2018 campaign, the Pirates are reportedly considering extending him yet again, like the Rays did with Evan Longoria.
In a vacuum, extending Andrew McCutchen would make sense for the Pirates. They would be able to ensure that their franchise player would likely spend the vast majority of his career in Pittsburgh, keeping McCutchen as the Pirates continue to develop their younger players and continuing to keep themselves as a perennial playoff contender.
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However, as great as he may be, extending McCutchen could be a mistake for the Pirates (dodges hurled beer bottles). Let us look at this from a financial standpoint for the Pirates first. Now, the Pirates will be spending more than $90 Million on their entire team for the first time in franchise history this year. Even if the Pirates increase their payroll to what would be an astounding $125 Million, the $25 Million per season that McCutchen is expected to receive would be 20% of their payroll.
Now, let us say that the Pirates do not increase their payroll. They would then find themselves in the same situation the Rays are in, as they have to get rid of players to keep their payroll at a reasonable level and still afford Longoria. The Pirates could well be a team that consists of Andrew McCutchen and a collection of castoffs.
Finally, by the time that the Pirates current extension with McCutchen ends, he will be 32 years old. While that is not ancient by any means, that means that he would start this next extension towards the end of his prime. Signing a player at that age to such a contract comes with considerable risk. After all, look at Alex Rodriguez, Justin Verlander and even Miguel Cabrera. These were all great players, but their contracts are among the worst in baseball.
In those cases, teams like the Tigers and Yankees have the financial wherewithal to afford such contracts and still spend. The Pirates, unless something drastically changes, do not. Andrew McCutchen, for as great as he is currently, could completely hamstring the Pirates financially if they follow through with this extension.
Andrew McCutchen is a great player. However, extending him may not make sense for the Pirates financially.
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