Yesterday’s news cycle brought word that Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates are approximately $10M apart on terms of a contract. That is a boatload of money is any situation, but I’m somewhat relieved that McCutchen and his agent Steve Hammond are looking at Justin Upton and Jay Bruce’s deals as benchmarks.
Those deals are in the 6 year/$51M sphere, so Hammond is not seeking to blaze new territory. The Pirates are offering in the $40M range, presumably on the same amount of years as they want multiple free agent years.
Even though they were all drafted in the same 1st round of the magnificent 2005 MLB draft, these 3 players are all very different. To begin with, Upton is 1 year younger than both of them so that has an inherent bargaining position. Both Upton and Bruce are RF’s, while McCutchen is a CF. Bruce is a prototypical RF — lot of power, strong arm, not a ton of speed. McCutchen will give you a good amount of both power and speed (although he seems reticent to steal more bases), but has an average arm at best. Upton is the best of these 3 players, as he has Bruce’s arm, McCutchen’s stolen base ability, and the most power potential of the three.
Bruce’s deal is in the same zone as Upton’s partly because he was going to be a Super 2 player so instead of an extra pre-arb year, there was compensation for his presumed Arb-1 year.
Both chicks and arbitrators dig the long ball, so a player like McCutchen won’t be judged on his range, stolen base total, or walk rate. When you are at the arbitration panel, they look at HR’s and RBI’s primarily.
Just a few days ago on the main site, I did an article that showed presumed updated $/WAR and how it may affect a McCutchen deal. At the time, with the inflated values and using Upton’s contract as a base, I thought 6 year/$58M would be a fair deal. If the Upton deal is the top of the standard, that changes the whole conversation.
Again…using those parameters of Upton’s deal as the top of the line, I would now say that 6 year/$48M would get this done for both sides. The fact that new territory is not attempting to be blazed is the comforting part of this news tidbit.