Center fielder Andrew McCutchen has had a tremendous influence on the Pirates and the city of Pittsburgh over the past seven years, and the Pirates want him to continue having an impact on the club for many years to come.
Drafted by the Pirates in the first round in 2005, McCutchen has played a major role in the team’s return to prominence, culminating in three straight playoff berths after a 20-year absence from the postseason.
Bob Nutting has witnessed the remarkable impact McCutchen has had since Nutting became the team’s principal owner in January 2007, and he wants to make him a Pirate for life.
"I’m not sure we’re allowed to sign lifetime agreements," Nutting told USA TODAY, "but I’d love to see him stay with us forever. He’s been remarkable for the game, and for Pittsburgh, on and off the field."
McCutchen, who is now 29, is entering the penultimate season of a six-year, $51.5 million extension with the Pirates. He has a team option for 2018 worth $14.75 million.
If Pittsburgh signs McCutchen beyond 2018, it will take deep pockets to ink a deal.
With Justin Upton and Jason Heyward both fetching long-term contracts worth $22 million and $23 million annually, respectively, McCutchen could garner from $25 million to $30 million per year for at least four years.
That’s no small tariff, but it would be well deserved for the ever-consistent McCutchen, who holds a .298/.388/.496 career slash line, averages 24 home runs, 87 RBI, and 24 stolen bases per 162 games, is stellar defensively, and has finished in the top five in the NL MVP Award voting in four consecutive seasons (winning the award in 2013).
Although the Pirates are excited to have developed into a perennial playoff team after decades of absence from October baseball, they are anxious to break through the ceiling they’ve hit in their most recent postseason surge.
In its first trip back to the postseason in 2013, Pittsburgh won the NL Wild Card Game, but lost the NLDS to its division-rival St. Louis Cardinals.
While they hoped to build on their playoff success in the years that followed, the Pirates have lost in the NL Wild Card Game in back-to-back seasons after terrific regular seasons.
"Just brutal," Nutting said of the Pirates’ postseason fate of the last two seasons. "Gut-wrenching. Almost indescribably unpleasant.
"That’s why I wake up every morning and look forward."
It’s clear that McCutchen is a major figure in that hope for the future.