McCutchen's tricky contract negotiation 

September, 13, 2011
9/13/11
10:22
AM ET
Andrew McCutchenTroy Taormina/US PresswireIt might be best for Andrew McCutchen and the Pirates to wait before inking a long-term contract.

It's been reported throughout the year that the Pittsburgh Pirates would like to sign Andrew McCutchen to a long-term deal of five or six years that would buy out his arbitration years, as well as a year or two of potential free agency. McCutchen and his agent have engaged in these talks, but from what I'm hearing both sides continue to be far apart.

Negotiations like these can be tricky because McCutchen won't hit the open market until after the 2015 season, and -- unlike with a free agent -- there is no need to strike a deal. The Pirates have their highest leverage this year because McCutchen is not yet eligible for arbitration. Based on the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, he will get a slight raise from the $452,500 he is earning this year. The leverage shifts to McCutchen next offseason if he continues to stay healthy and his production continues to rise. That's because he could be in line for a huge raise via arbitration. The Colorado Rockies waited a year too long to extend Carlos Gonzalez and it ended up costing them a seven-year, $80 million deal. The Los Angeles Dodgers will pay a price this winter or next for not having Matt Kemp locked up long-term when they had a chance last offseason.

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