Blog Entry

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Posted on: March 6, 2012 1:55 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 4:28 pm

BRADENTON, Fla -- Pirates owner Bob Nutting declared, "This is an exciting day for the Pittsburgh Pirates.'' And so it was. While the newly cost-conscious New York Yankees were practicing on the field behind them, the Pirates, dreadfully low in the spending and winning departments almost all of the past two decades, were announcing their $51.5-million contract for star outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a neat little area by their clubhouse beyond right field.

The Pirates are starting to show they mean business, doing things in recent months they hadn't done in a while, including spending serious money. They acquired semi-pricey veterans Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick at the trade deadline last July, imported A.J. Burnett and $13 million of his bloated contract (from said Yankees) on the eve of spring training, and now have signed off on the seceont largest contract in their history for the multitalented McCutchen. The Pirates, it is said, just could not chance losing McCutchen, who is their best player and also a very good player as well (one doesn't necessarily ensure the other).

My contract expert rates this as "a fair deal for both sides,'' though he did note that McCutchen hit .216 in the second half last season and has only one 20-homer season (also last year). It's a very similar deal to those given to two other young star outfielders, Justin Upton and Jay Bruce, and I'd rate McCutchen third in that group, with Upton first and Bruce second. But still a strong third.

As everyone in Pittsburgh knows, the Pirates haven't had a winning season since another young outfielder, Barry Bonds, left town following the 1992 season. So for all they've done the past few years in the way of draft and international signings (draftees Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie are the team's pitching future), and they spent a whopping $50 million in amateur talent since starting with No. 2 overall pick Pedro Alvarez in 2008, everyone understands they had to seal the deal with McCutchen.

The move is rightly being applauded throughout the Pittsburgh area because it is another reminder the team is trying hard. Yet, even after all the good feeling here over the big deal, there are two questions: 1) Did the need to make a statement play a role in signing him? and 2) Was he signed because he's a great ballplayer or a great kid?

As for the first question, Nutting says no. "This signing is not done to make a statement,'' Nutting said. Pirates president Frank Coonelly said that statement signings may only be good for a day, and pointed out that spending this kind of money only for the intention of positive pub carries a great risk. Though of course, if they failed to lock up McCutchen, what would that say? This says they are committed to winning, so whether they intended it or not, a statement was made.

As for whether they signed a person or ballplayer, the main message seemed to be about what kind of young man McCutchen is. "This commitment is one we're willing to make because of the person he is,'' Nutting said in one of multiple statements made along those lines. Here's another, from GM Neal Huntington, "I'd like to thank Andrew's parents for raising such an outstanding person.''

All indications are that McCutchen is just an absolutely terrific kid (he even made a special trip over to say hello to the Pirates beat writers). But there is a danger if a team is paying for persona. There is a reason personality is sometimes cited as a consolation compliment.

Of course, for this deal to work he's going to have to do more than be pleasant to the fans and great in the community; he's going to have to perform on the field. McCutchen wound up hitting only .259 last year with 126 strikeouts, but he has posted consistent OPS marks in his career -- .836, .814 and then .820 last year. He's a very good player who's not yet great. The key is, he is only 25.

Pirates people talked about the type of player they hope he becomes. The reality is, he isn't a $51.5-million player yet. But they think he will be one day.

As we all know, previous Pirates regimes had a knack for giving big deals when they weren't warranted, including one infamous one to journeyman infielder Pat Meares. Their biggest contract ever was a $60 million six-year deal. That one went to Jason Kendall, a catcher who could hit for a high batting average at one time.

Pirates people figure this deal will pay off much better for them. On the day they signed Kendall, they also made a very big statement. And he didn't even have such a great personality.


Since: Jun 13, 2008
Posted on: March 14, 2012 6:26 am

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

This is in response to your post SPARTACUS007.Yeah with revenue sharing I just do not buy into the whole poverty argument & 'we can't compete with the New York teams & the L.A.teams & Boston & Texas & St.Louis & the Chicago teams & Philadelphia'.First of all the Mets are in dire straits financially which is why I think David Wright will be elsewhere by the trade deadline,but that's another story.The Dodgers haven't been knockin 'em dead although neither has either Chicago team.As far as the teams you mentioned,all but 2 of those teams have reached the World Series with the Marlins winning 2 Championships.@spartacus007 bottom line is I'm with ya,I can't stand the whining coming from these owners who are getting revenue but choosing to pocket the money & not invest in the team,be it the front office,scouting or elsewhere.It's not all about Free Agency.You have to have scouts not only in the Carribean but South America too.Check out all the players succeding on the Major League level from Venezuela.

Since: Jun 13, 2008
Posted on: March 14, 2012 5:51 am

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Not only do I think he's worth the amount of money he signed for,I think he's worth more & he screwed himself when it comes his time for Free Agency.As you stated John he might not be a $51,500,000 player yet but he's right there.Unless he just takes the money,gives it his all when he wants to & waits until his walk year,though nothing in his character suggests he'd do that,he will definitely become worth more than the contract.This is in my opinion will turn out to be a bargain for the Pirates.I remember in '09 when he was called up I grabbed him about a week later on my fantasy team & he didn't disappoint.On a side note,as of right now,between Justin Upton,Jay Bruce & Andrew McCutchen;I rank 'em Upton,McCutchen,Bruce though they're all close except Bruce has little speed.I think Bruce will have a huge year in '12

Since: May 17, 2007
Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:21 am

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Yeah zips ... I read the entire board, even posted early on about it a couple of places.

No need for me to rehash. Those are my thoughts. Free for the taking, or dismiss at your whim.

I just wish we could find more alliances on these boards than adversaries. Perhaps that's why your school is in the predicament you say it's in.

Peace, brother.

Since: Oct 11, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:58 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

Andrew McCutchen is one of the games rising stars with an incredibly high ceiling.  51 million may seem like a lot, but doesn't break the bank

You said that like a true baseball fan, and I applaud that. The "cry wolf" Pirates have to start building a team base somewhere, rather than serving as a farm team for other organizations who have the revenue to sign these young players to longer term deals. They need to make someone the face of the franchise, and McCutcheon is a damn good choice. He plays hard every night, runs the bases like a veteran, and doesn't take at bats off. Not to mention he has Gold Glove potential as a center fielder. Now if they can get production out of a few more of their top picks like Pedro Alvarez, then maybe just maybe they can turn they corner and stop being the dregs of the majors.


Since: Mar 1, 2012
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:22 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

If this was a big market team then this would be a great deal for that team. McCutchen is a top center fielder in the league this is well worth the money.

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:29 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

After 19 straight losing seasons, the poverty plea just doesn't work anymore. Since Sid slid across home plate in 1992, small-market teams like the Twins, Athletics, Marlins, Rays, Indians, and Padres have mutiple playoff apearances.
Agreed. Not only have those teams made multiple playoff appearances, they've done so in divisions where the teams with the largest payroll and/or revenue reside, and with the exception of the first Marlins champion, those teams were mostly built through development and retention of homegrown talent. What the Pirates have managed to do since Bonds left is combine terrible management with thriftiness to produce an historical level of futility. Even the Cubs have been to the playoffs several times since the Pirates last made it, for chrissakes.

Of course McCutchen is not worth $51 million in the real world, but in MLB terms it's not a bad deal at all. He's an exciting player, the kind that every losing team needs in order to give fans aside from the diehards a reason to watch or to go to the ball park. Not to mention if Pittsburgh can develop and hold onto similarly good and exciting players, maybe one of these days they'll contend for a playoff spot.

Since: Sep 24, 2010
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:25 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

The more I read heyman's articles, the dumber i think he is.

Andrew McCutchen is one of the games rising stars with an incredibly high ceiling.  51 million may seem like a lot, but doesn't break the bank.  There is every indication that he will meet the expectations (or at the very least, come close).  Think of some of the other contracts guys throw out there (burnett, soriano, crawford)!  This is a good signing, especially since he's the only guy on that team who brings people to the ball park...for now anyways.

this article is silly Mr Heyman

Since: Feb 5, 2012
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:10 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

I didn't take the article as you slighting the Pirates, for me it read moreso as you slighting McCutchen. The whole premise of the article was your skepticism abot the new contract and questioning if he got more money because he is a good clubhouse guy. His numbers alone compare favorably to Justin Upton and Jay Bruce except in the HR category, (especially WAR), but HR aren't everything, Carl Crawford got a pretty nice chunk of change without hitting many. 20/20 outfielders don't grow on trees, so if u have one, that's just 24 years old, already a team leader, already a fan favorite, to me its clear the best move possible was to lock him up long term. As for the 51.5M, market value was established via Upton & Bruce, and neither signed their contract this season so this is ignoring inflation. The contract based on numbers alone is fair, the plus clubhouse guy is an added bonus for Pittsburgh.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:06 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?

I am reminded of how excited the Diamondbacks were when they signed Eric Byrnes. That didn't end well.

Since: Dec 21, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:28 pm

McCutchen is a great kid, but is he worth $51.5M?


did you read his post in response to my original post or did you just take mine into account?

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