With rumors of potential contract extensions in the air in Bradenton, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington shared his thoughts on center fielder Andrew McCutchen and his value to the team in an interview with MLB.com.
The head of the Pirates’ front office, who said recently there are no active discussions with the star outfielder, commended McCutchen for his work – and said that the contract he signed, which is widely viewed as an extremely team-friendly deal, allowed him to become the star he is today.
"“It has worked out well for him. He is a very wealthy young man. He has been open about saying that the financial comfort and security freed him up to just go play. He didn’t have to worry about the risk of injury, or the risk of not performing. The contract has been a part of why he became such a great player.”"
The team is reportedly willing to go to great lengths to keep the former National League MVP in the Steel City. A recent report indicated that Pittsburgh could approach the $25 million mark annually in a new deal – a big jump from his current deal, a six-year contract worth $51.5 million – peaking annually at $14 million in 2017.
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Last season, McCutchen posted a .314/.410/.542 mark in 146 games – his fewest games in a single season since the 2009 campaign – his rookie year – when he played in just 109 contests. Despite this, the outfielder hit 25 long-balls, while driving in 83 runs and tying a career-high with 38 doubles for the second consecutive campaign.
The last three years has culminated in numerous accolades for the Pittsburgh outfielder: three All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers, a gold glove and three top-three finished in the National League MVP voting – including the league’s top honors in 2013.
Huntington – along with the rest of baseball – is well aware of what type of player McCutchen is; and what his value to an organization like the Pirates can be. While this debate likely will not conclude anytime soon given there are still a few years left on his deal, the Bucs remain optimistic moving forward.
"“We’ve got four more years to be in contract with Andrew, and [we] certainly hope we are able to find that financial common ground that allows him to spend a lot more than the next four years in Pittsburgh, as we continue to do everything in our power to help him be a great player.”"