Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers and catchers will report to Pirate City on Wednesday for spring training in Bradenton, Florida. Their position players will follow Feb. 22.
Several Pirates are already in camp, including franchise cornerstone Andrew McCutchen. While chatting with reporters Monday, McCutchen said he would "love" to spend the rest of his career in Pittsburgh. Here's what he said, via Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“I'm not too focused on it, but definitely I've mentioned it before. I've said it plenty times: this is a place that I'd love to be, a place that I'd love to spend my whole career, win championships and just be here. It doesn't happen a whole lot in this game. But if the opportunity presents itself, that would be great for me, for my wife and, hopefully, one day, God willing, we have a family of our own. So, that would be really cool.”
McCutchen was also asked about the possibility of one day signing a $400 million contract, though he danced around the question.
"Anybody can get paid millions of dollars, but it's what you do with who you are that matters," he said.
The 29-year-old McCutchen would have qualified for free agency this offseason had he not signed his six-year contract extension worth $51.5 million in March 2012. In this market, he almost certainly would have garnered a deal worth $30 million per season had he become a free agent this winter. That's the going rate for elite players.
Instead, the Pirates owe McCutchen $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2017, with a $14.75 million club option for 2018. The way things are going now, that club option is a lock to be picked up, so McCutchen is realistically three years away from becoming a free agent. He'll be just turning 32 when he hits the open market.
The Pirates are perennial contenders now and their payroll has gradually climbed $66.8 million in 2013 to $99.2 million in 2016, though it still ranks in the bottom third of the league. Where will the team be financially in three years? That will be the biggest factor in the club's ability to retain McCutchen long-term.