Stats Corner: McCutchen's contract extension brings huge cost savings
MLB is awash in cash, with TV rights deals pushing annual revenues past $8 billion during the 2013 season and potentially hitting $9 billion in 2014. Those expanded revenue streams have increased the cost of retaining and acquiring talent: the median team payroll projects to be north of $100 million for the upcoming season, according to Fangraphs. On the free agent market, clubs spent around $6 million to improve by a single game in the standings.
The Pirates, projected for the third-lowest opening day payroll ($71.5 million) in the majors, won't have to worry about rival clubs luring Andrew McCutchen away. The reigning National League MVP is a mega-star, but his team-friendly contract will keep him in town through at least 2017 for a fraction of his free agent worth.
Through age 26, McCutchen ranks third in franchise history in wins above replacement, which measures a player's offensive, defensive and base running value compared to a waiver wire-type talent. Only Arky Vaughan and Barry Bonds shined brighter so early in their careers.
So good, so soon
Player Years WAR through age 26
Arky Vaughan 1932-38 47.9
Barry Bonds 1986-91 38.9
Andrew McCutchen 2009-13 27.2
Paul Waner 1926-29 25.5
Ralph Kiner 1946-49 24.3
While Bonds bolted for San Francisco in his late 20s, McCutchen signed a long-term deal two years ago that looks like a steal. McCutchen figures to be worth six to seven wins per season over the duration of his contract, according to the Oliver projection system on Fangraphs. Compared to what McCutchen likely would have made through salary arbitration and free agency, his extension may end up saving the Pirates nearly $130 million.
Year Projected WAR Estimated salary* Actual salary
2014 6.8 $24.5 M $7.2 M
2015 6.7 $33.8 M $10 M
2016 6.4 $42 M $13 M
2017 6.3 $43.8 M $14 M
2018+ 6.0 $43.8 M $14.5 M
Total 32.2 $187.9 M $58.7 M
*Assumes McCutchen would have made 60 percent of his free agent salary during his second year of arbitration (2014) and 80 percent during his third (2015) and that MLB salaries will increase by 5 percent per year from 2014-18
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Pirates sign independent league pitcher
- Pirates, Happ interested in coming to terms on deal
- Rossi: Baseball should retire Roberto Clemente’s No. 21
- Pirates season opener moved to April 3
- Pirates protect top prospects in advance of Rule 5 draft