How Can the Pirates Show They’re Committed to Winning?

. . . other than by winning?

Has anyone noticed that the best center fielder in the game may play in, of all places, Pittsburgh? Yup, I am referring to Andrew McCutchen, the charismatic, five-tool 24-year-old who is making a measly $452,500 playing for the habitually hapless Pirates.

Just how good is McCutchen? According to a FanGraphs leaderboard of regular center fielders encompassing the 2009–10 seasons, McCutchen ranks first in park and league-adjusted runs created (wRC+), second in on-base percentage (OBP), and sixth in wins above replacement (WAR).

In other words: pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Writing in Beyond the Boxscore, Dave Gershman offers a recommendation to the Bucs front office:

If the Pirates haven’t already considered locking up their young superstar they should certainly do so now. Andrew McCutchen continues to impress the baseball world day after day it seems. On a team that many believe isn’t that far from being competitive, it’s extremely crucial that McCutchen stay in black and gold.

As Dave Golebiewski of the Duquesne Duke explains:

Rather than potentially watching McCutchen’s salary soar through arbitration each winter, the Pirates should try to sign their star to a long-term deal right now. Doing so would give the club cost certainty. Also, these types of deals typically buy out a few years of free agency, meaning McCutchen would be in a Pirates uniform past 2015. 

Approaching McCutchen’s agent on this issue would hardly be precedent-setting. Gershman compares McCutchen to another talented center fielder, 27-year-old  Denard Span, who the Twins inked to a $16.5 million contract over five years in March 2010. And while Minnesota’s payroll is nearly $70 million higher than Pittsburgh’s, another small-budget franchise, the Rays, have received generally positive reviews for locking up several young players well into their free-agent years, most recently pitcher Wade Davis.

More importantly, signing McCutchen to a long-term contract would show a desperate fan base — one which last saw a winning season during the George Herbert Walker Bush administration — that team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington are committed to building a winner around a superior player with several prime seasons still to come.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More