According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates approached left fielder Starling Marte with a contract extension twice during the Winter and each time he turned them down. That doesn’t mean that Marte won’t sign an extension though, Biertempfel points out that he is still open to the idea of signing long-term.

Marte doesn’t hit free agency until 2019 and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 season, so there is no rush to get the deal done. The Pirates are probably looking for a team friendly deal in exchange for financial security for Marte, which might not be a bad idea on his part with all of the times he gets hit by pitches. Marte was second in the league with 24 HBP last season and he missed time during Winter ball after being hit.

It should also be pointed out that Marte was signed for an $85,000 bonus in 2007, so he really didn’t start to make any money until he reached the majors in 2012. That might also factor in his decision to sign a long-term deal sooner, rather than later.

The Pirates also wouldn’t mind locking up 2/3 of their future outfield, with Andrew McCutchen already signed for the near future and Gregory Polanco on his way to Pittsburgh this Summer. Many believe they will quickly become the best outfield in baseball. It should be pointed out that McCutchen didn’t sign his contract until after his second full season in the majors, one year more than Marte has now.

These deals that appear to be team-friendly don’t always work out as planned. Jose Tabata signed what appeared to be a team-friendly deal in 2011, but he hasn’t progressed as they hoped, which now makes him a difficult player to trade.

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  1. His defense is a huge asset. Offensively, he might struggle due to his refusal to draw walks. But he would be a valuable player even if he fails to improve his hitting. I would think 7 years – $35 million would work for both sides.

    • That would be huge for the Pirates. If he puts up similar numbers to this year, with just a little more power and even just a slightly higher average, $50 million seems more realistic over that time period.

  2. The sooner the Pirates get Starling Marte signed long term, the better off they will be. This kid’s numbers in the minors provide a good indication that he will continue to improve as he matures, and he will only be playing in his age 25 season in 2014. His numbers in 2013 were excellent – .280 batting average, almost 50 extra base hits as a leadoff batter (26 doubles/10 triples/ 12 HR’s), 41 SB’s, Walks and HBP adding up to 50, and a Gold Glove caliber OF. I think FanGraphs had him as a 4.6 WAR? When he starts to use the whole field at PNC, those troublesome K’s will be reduced, and the number of HR’s will increase to 20-25 HR’s/year.

    • Emjay…I hope you’re right. His high BABIP of .363 scares me. If he DOESN’T get those K’s down and walks up, there’s a good possibility we’ll be stuck with a .250-.270, low OBP player, albeit, a VERY good fielder.

      I mean, I’m still waiting for Pedro to use the whole field and get HIS K’s down.

      But, as you said, he continued to improve in the minors (and majors)…lots of ‘experts’ were down on him BECAUSE of his High K, Low walk totals, so….I hope Marte continues to confound them.

      • If you look at his BABIP from Lo A .400; Hi A ,424; AA .390; AAA .344; 2012 MLB .333; 2013 MLB .363, he truly defies standard evaluations. In 2012 he K’d 6 times for every Walk; in 2013 it got better, but not by much when he K’d 5.5 times for every Walk. He is just that good and that aggressive that a pitcher better throw him their best on every pitch because he must have fantastic hand/eye coordination. And, his K/W Ratio’s in the minors were not that good either. After only little more than 600 AB’s in the majors, he is starting to get the smarts needed to control the tempo of the game. I think he is on that same developmental basis and schedule as ‘Cutch was when he first came up – leadoff, leadoff, leadoff/middle of the order, middle of the order.

        • Marte’s speed enables a higher percentage of infield hits than the average player skewing his BABIP a little higher. Until he slows down he is unlikely to regress as much as you would expect the normal player to regress. Will he be able to be more patient, work the count better and choose better pitches to hit is more a psychological question. I think that “slow heart beat” is trainable if the batter is willing. But is Marte willing? I’ve stated before I see him more of a 5 hole batter than a lead off batter if his power develops and Polanco can replace him as an effective leadoff hitter because of his higher OBP.

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