In an interview with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Pirates star center fielder Andrew McCutchen reiterated he would like to remain in Pittsburgh for the remainder of his Major League Baseball career, but is that even plausible?
McCutchen has always said the right things when asked about his long-term career plans. When asked about staying in Pittsburgh, he replied:
"“I’m not too focused on it, but definitely I’ve mentioned it before. I’ve said it plenty times: This is a place that I’d love to be, a place that I’d love to spend my whole career, win championships and just be here. It doesn’t happen a whole lot in this game. But if the opportunity presents itself, that would be great for me, for my wife and, hopefully, one day, God willing, we have a family of our own. So that would be really cool.”"
We all know that is easier said then done. Even good guys like McCutchen, who is well-liked by fans across the country as well as his peers, still look at the bottom line. Which of course is the bottom line. Money.
He is already set for life. Most MLB stars are by the time they reach their eighth season. But the payday will be enormous when McCutchen’s free agency arrives. Even if his numbers decline somewhat over the next three seasons, he will only be 32 when he reaches the market. It could easily produce a $200 million deal and even if he says it’s not about the money, it always is.
This puts the Pirates in a bind. The ‘Cheap Nuttings’ crowd will have field day if McCutchen is not re-signed or even is traded before his contract with the Pirates ends. But at the same time, the Bucs have been very careful with their spending and value is the key word.
Is McCutchen worth that type of contract in what will sure to be his declining years? Even if he took some kind of hometown discount, the numbers might be too high for the Pirates to pay with their current valuation process.
Then it becomes a PR issue. Obviously, McCutchen leaving under any circumstances will not be good for the image of the franchise, even if it is the best baseball decision.
The questions will continue to be asked over the next couple seasons and McCutchen will continue to give his politically correct responses, but eventually something will have to give.