Last week Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported that outfielder Starling Marte had turned down multiple long-term contract extension offers from the Pirates, but now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com says the two sides have agreed to a six-year, $31 million deal.
Marte is still another year away from arbitration eligibility and under the Pirates’ control through 2018 already, so because the six-year contract technically begins this season it would buy out his first year of free agency. According to Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio the contract also includes two team options.
After a 47-game debut in 2012 he became a regular for Pittsburgh last season and hit .280 with 12 homers, 41 stolen bases, and a .784 OPS in 135 games, along with very good defense in left field. Marte has a ton of long-term potential, especially if he can improve upon his awful plate discipline and strike zone control after posting a 138/25 K/BB ratio in 2013. Even while hacking away at everything he ranked among the most valuable all-around outfielders in the league as a 24-year-old.
Pittsburgh has reigning MVP center fielder Andrew McCutchen locked up through 2018 and stud right field prospect Gregory Polanco waiting in the wings at Triple-A, so the Pirates should be set (and very good) for a long time.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.