BRADENTON, FL - The Pirates' announcement plans won't be known until the transaction is completed. But there is agreement on a six-year, $51.5 million contract for Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, a source confirmed to MLB.com on Monday.
And among Pirates fans and baseball insiders, there is also agreement on this: The pact cements the club's long-range future and direction. It is a significant departure from Pittsburgh's recent trend of developing but being unable to retain young talent.
Details of a contract that had been negotiated for nearly a year came together two days after the Pirates and McCutchen had announced agreement on a deal for 2012. The breakdown of the new contract is not yet known, but it is expected to override the previously agreed-to terms for the coming season.
The two sides had been working to cross a relatively small bridge, with Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington offering in the $40 million range and the player's camp invoking two other young stars as comparables.
Arizona outfielder Justin Upton signed a six-year extension for $51.25 million two years ago. Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce agreed to his six-year, $51 million extension in December 2010.
The comparisons were flawless. Not only are all three entering their age-25 seasons, but they were bunched at the top of the the first round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Upton was No. 1, McCutchen No. 11 and Bruce No. 12.
McCutchen now trumps both, which was important to him.
During his visit to Pirate City a week ago, club chairman Bob Nutting acknowledged the Pirates had the means to secure core players, as well as awareness of the need to do so.
"We have not reached a point of urgency," Nutting said, "but we have said from the very beginning that we have a plan to build talent and then to retain and build on talent that are key pieces of the organization. Neal has a clear understanding of what those key pieces are."
One of those centerpieces will now be secured through his three remaining arbitration-eligibility years and his first two years of free agency. The agreement also includes an option for a seventh year, at $14.75 million.
The guaranteed portion of McCutchen's deal will be the second richest in Pirates history. Jason Kendall was one year removed from free agency in November 2000 when he signed a six-year extension for $60 million that kicked in beginning with the 2002 season.