Andrew McCutchen talking long-term extension with Pirates

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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.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.