Francisco Cervelli open to extension with Pirates; at three years, $39 million?

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Francisco Cervelli had a nice debut season with the Pirates in 2015, batting .295 with a .370 on-base percentage in 130 games while contributing steady defense behind the plate. But the 29-year-old catcher is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2016 season, and the Pittsburgh front office will have to buck up — slight pun intended — to keep him around for any longer than that.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the latest …

Even though Cervelli is only nine months away from free agency and is expected to rival Baltimore’s Matt Wieters as the top catcher available next winter, Cervelli would consider foregoing the open market if the Pirates offered a three-year extension offer worth roughly $13 million per season, according to a source.

That’s not a ton of money for a reliable catcher, but the Pirates operate on a tight budget compared to other MLB teams. They’re paying Cervelli just $3.5 million for the 2016 season.

“We do not discuss negotiations — potential or active — publicly,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told the Tribune-Review when asked about a possible extension. “We like Cervelli a lot and would welcome the chance to have him remain a Pirate in the event we are able to find a contract that makes sense for both the player and club. We are also fortunate to have two quality catching prospects that are near major league ready in case we are not able to reach common financial ground.”

Those prospects are Elias Diaz and Reese McGuire, both top-10 guys at the position.

Another thing to ponder as we move toward the start of spring training.