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Thu, 08 Mar 2012 03:49 PM EST

The Pittsburgh Pirates and All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen concluded to a 6-year, $51.5 million agreement.

McCutchen, 25, is now under agreement with the Pirates thru the 2017 season, and there is a club option for 2018.

Though he hit just .259 in 2011, McCutchen posted career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (89) whilst adding 23 stolen bases. He would have been authorized to become an independent agent following the 2015 season. Baseball betting lines

McCutchen is regarded as the linchpin of a core group the Pittsburgh Pirates are counting on to turn the organization around.

“Andrew McCutchen is one of the best young players in the game and we are extremely pleased to make this type of commitment to a great player and a great person,” general manager Neal Huntington asserted. “It has been our desire for Andrew to be a cornerstone for this organization and this agreement hardens that intention for no less than the subsequent seven years.”

Steve Hammond, McCutchen’s promoter, credited both sides for ensuring McCutchen may continue to be among the focal pieces to Pittsburgh’s rebuilding course. Basketball odds

“We were working conscientiously at this,” Hammond asserted. “It was something Pittsburgh wanted and Andrew wanted. We found common ground.”

Floating between leadoff and 3rd in the lineup, McCutchen helped keep the Pirates in contention in the NL Central until late July last season.

“This is an exciting day for the Pirates organization and for Pirates followers,” declared Bob Nutting, the team’s CEO of the board. “In addition to being a dynamic player on the field and a frontrunner in the clubhouse, Andrew is an outstanding representative of the Pirates in the neighborhood. We have said from the very beginning that our plan is to get high impact talent then retain and build on that talent to bring a winning organization to our followers. I believe this contract speaks not only to that responsibility, but additionally to Andrew’s belief in the positive direction of our franchise.”

Though Pittsburgh signed outfielder Jose Tabata to a long-term deal last summer, McCutchen and the Pirates seemed to be far apart on what a new deal would look like. Hammond announced McCutchen wanted to wait until he played at least 2 full seasons before getting serious about an extension.

“There was some inconvenience in that,” Hammond recounted. “We were willing to take that on and we did.”

McCutchen’s new offer is rather similar to the deal Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce and Arizona outfielder Justin Upton agreed to at similar points in their own careers. Both players had 2-plus seasons in the majors at the time the agreements were signed. Once McCutchen reached that level of service following the 2011 season, he believed that he had the right framework in which to make a contract.

“It was a better chance to take a look at those players and compare ourselves to them,” Hammond said. “It worked out.”

McCutchen’s speed has made him one of baseball’s best defensive center fielders and his charming smile and trademark dreadlocks have made him one of Pittsburgh’s preferred players.

The Pirates drafted McCutchen with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He made his big league debut in 2009 and is a career.276 hitter.

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