Oddly Comforted By A $10M Gap

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.

  • I agree. I’d also add the general interpretation of that information has been that Cutch is seeking about 50 or so and the Pirates are offering 40. That may be the case, but it’s hard to say definitely. Something in the Upton/Bruce range could mean 48 million and something closer to 40 million could mean 44 million for instance.

  • Comforting, perhaps.  But then I think, this is the team that went to arbitration with Garret Jones even though the two sides were only $250,000 apart.

    • That Garrett jones thing is a lil off. Is a team just supposed to give every player what they ask for without negotiating at all. For all we know they said lets meet half way and Jones said i’ll take my chances. Which he lost. Id love to go to work and say give me this or Im leaving and just have them say OK here ya go.

  • Kevin, you may be the only one encouraged by management low balling our best player. If Cutch wants 6 years $51 million it should have been done yesterday. They are quickly running out of leverage for a deal and this is the primary litmus test for Nutting’s edict that we will keep our homegrown players.

    • It is the publicized number of a negotiation, not a lowball offer.  Any negotiation has a back and forth.  You can’t expect an agent to present a number and have the team fall over themselves to sign the first offer.

      There is, in my opinion, a full year of time to get this deal done.  Something would need to be in place by Andrew’s Arb-1 hearing in Feb 2013 to have maximum effect.  At that point you would be hoping for savings on Arb-3 and FA-1 and FA-2 years.

      Not every deal gets done at this juncture in a player’s career.

      • Yeah but all the team friendly deals get done prior to arb, its the only time the Bucs have real leverage. Nevermind what happens when Cutch takes another step toward super stardom in 2012. When you buy out at Arb prices plus you end up with a $100 million deal like Zimmerman got. The Bucs would never do that.

        • I agree with both of you.  I’m encouraged (at the moment) that they are not asking for the moon (at the moment).  That is great.  But if Cutch has a monster year this year, the moon is what it may require. 

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