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Pirates ready to sign McCutchen to six-year, $51.5 million contract

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates are ready to sign All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million contract, two sources have confirmed.

The deal is completed, pending a physical, and could be formally announced as soon as this afternoon.

The contract will take McCutchen, 25, through his three years of arbitration eligibility and at least his first two years of free agency. The Pirates will pay McCutchen $500,000 in 2012; $4.5 million in 2013; $7.25 million in 2014; $10 million in 2015; $13 million in 2016; $14 million in 2017 and there is a $14.75 million club option for 2018.

The 11th overall pick in the heralded 2005 draft class, McCutchen has been a consistent performer over his first three seasons in the majors. He has a career batting average of .276 with 51 home runs and 78 stolen bases.

When talks between the two sides began more than a year ago, McCutchen's camp aimed for a deal similar to the $51 million contracts that outfielders Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds signed in 2010.

Last August, the Pirates gave outfielder Jose Tabata a six-year, $15 million extension.

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