BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Andrew McCutchen wants to end his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it will take a new contract to ensure that happens.
McCutchen, 29, has at least two seasons left on the $51.5 million deal he signed in 2012. On Monday, as position players reported to Pirates spring training camp, the All-Star center fielder did not blink when asked if he wants to extend his stay in Pittsburgh.
“I think you know that answer,” McCutchen said. “Everyone knows I want to be here. That’s nothing new to anyone.”
In December, owner Bob Nutting said he would like to see McCutchen retire as a Pirate.
“That would be really cool,” McCutchen said. “It’s great to hear that from an owner.”
However, Nutting has not indicated if he’s willing to pay the $20 million or more a year McCutchen might command on the open market. The Pirates consistently rank among the bottom third of the 30 MLB clubs in player payroll.
McCutchen, the 2013 National League MVP, will make $13 million this season and $14 million in 2017. The Pirates hold a $14.5 million option for 2018.
“I don’t know what my market value is. I haven’t discussed that with my agent,” McCutchen said. “I still stick with the (notion that) money doesn’t define me, because it doesn’t. But no one plays for free.”
Over the winter, the budget-conscious Pirates parted with a pair of former first-round picks who were set to make about $15 million.
First baseman Pedro Alvarez was non-tendered after batting .243 and making 23 errors last season. Second baseman Neil Walker, a Pittsburgh native, was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Jon Niese.
“You’d love to still have them as teammates, but we do understand that this is a business,” McCutchen said. “These things happen and we have to accept that.”
When the Pirates drafted McCutchen with the 11th overall pick in 2005, they were in the midst of 20 consecutive losing seasons. The team has earned a NL wild-card berth in each of the past three years.
The Pirates advanced to the division series in 2013, but lost the past two wild-card games at PNC Park. In 2014, they were shut out by San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. Last year, they were blanked by Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s just one game, so it’s just a matter of which pitcher is on that day, who has their stuff,” McCutchen said. “Watching the (other playoff) games, it does sting knowing you could’ve been there.”
McCutchen hopes the next collective bargaining agreement leads to a three-game wild-card series.
“I think that would make it a little more equal,” McCutchen said. “I don’t know if I’d lobby for it, but I’m sure that’s one of the things they’ve been talking about.”