Andrew McCutchen declined to give any specifics when asked yesterday, but Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates are discussing a long-term contract extension with the 24-year-old center fielder.
McCutchen won’t be arbitration eligible until 2013, so to buy out any of his free agent years a contract extension would have to go through at least 2016.
He’s off to a slow start this season, but McCutchen began his career with back-to-back All-Star caliber seasons and his .816 OPS since debuting in 2009 trails only Torii Hunter (.825) and Matt Kemp (.823) among all MLB center fielders.
As a career .281 hitter with 20-homer power, 30-steal speed, and strong defense at an up-the-middle position McCutchen is among the best long-term building blocks in the league and told Kovacevic that he’d love to stay in Pittsburgh for his “whole career”:
I really love it in Pittsburgh. I love playing there. I love the city. I love how things are starting to turn around for us. That’s one of the things I feel that they know, and they have the same feeling I do. We’re very open to working something out, but we just want to make sure it’s something we want. That’s basically what we’re looking at right now.
Based on recent precedent for young outfielders signing long-term deals at similar stages in their service time, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors speculates that the Pirates will offer McCutchen a six-year deal worth around $50 million.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.