First Pitch: The Future of Austin Meadows in the Pirates’ Organization

After the promotion of Austin Meadows to Altoona today, I got a lot of questions about his future in the organization. This included his ETA, how he fits in to the future plans of the Pirates, and his future upside.

The obvious thing here is that the Pirates have no immediate need for Meadows in the majors. They don’t even have a huge need for him in the next few years. Their outfield is made up of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. Those three are all under team control together for three more seasons. McCutchen is eligible for free agency following the 2018 season, while Polanco is under team control through 2020, and Marte is under control through 2021.

Meadows is one of the best prospects in baseball. He’s got the potential for an impact bat, he can play center field, and if he needs to move to a corner, he’s got the power potential to handle one of those spots. As I noted today, his power numbers were down this year, although that’s mostly due to the very pitcher friendly Florida State League. He made solid contact all year, and showed off a good amount of raw power that will eventually translate in the game as he gets older. The power has already started to translate this year, and might be more noticeable in a neutral league.

The Pirates are now in a special situation with their top outfield prospect. He’s very young for where he’s at in the minors, and is far from a finished project, which means they can take their time with him. They can keep him in Altoona for a full season in 2016, keep him in Indianapolis for a full season in 2017, and then give him a half season and call him up in 2018 right after he turns 23 years old. Even then, they probably won’t need him as a starter, unless one of McCutchen, Marte, or Polanco goes down with an injury. Or, if Josh Bell doesn’t make the successful jump to the majors, Meadows could take a similar path to first base just to get in the majors sooner.

But the truth is that Meadows really only has a long-term future in Pittsburgh if one of two things happen — the Pirates let Andrew McCutchen walk as a free agent after the 2018 season, or they trade one of Marte and Polanco by that point. The latter doesn’t make much sense, as Marte will be making $7.5 M in 2018, and $10 M in 2019, which are very affordable prices for a guy currently putting up 3-4+ WAR per season. Polanco will be entering his first year of arbitration in 2018, assuming he doesn’t sign an extension before then.

If things keep going the way they’re going, then entering the 2018 season the Pirates will have two young outfielders in the majors who will be reaching their prime years while making very affordable salaries, and still having a few years of control remaining. Dealing Marte or Polanco at that point might be a lesser equivalent to dealing McCutchen now if the Pirates had a top outfield prospect to replace him. But then the other side of that is letting McCutchen walk, letting Meadows take over, and letting the future ride on another young, future impact outfielder while banking on an MVP entering his decline years.

The third option here would be using Meadows as a trade chip, which would obviously be the best choice if the Pirates extended McCutchen. If that happened, it would only make sense to deal Meadows away, since he’d be wasted in the Pirates’ organization, and wouldn’t have a role to fill. Then again, maybe the NL adopts the DH by that point (fingers crossed!), and this entire conversation is moot, allowing the Pirates to rotate their outfielders in and out of the DH spot to keep them fresh.

Of course, all of this is a conversation for a future day. We’re actually nowhere near close to having to worry about any of this. The Pirates could actually wait until the end of 2018 to make a decision on all of this, and see how things play out at that point. That three-year period is a long time. Three years ago, the Pirates were still a losing team, in the middle of the worst second-half collapse in sports. Andrew McCutchen wasn’t an MVP yet. Gregory Polanco was just breaking out in low-A ball. Starling Marte had just made his MLB debut. Oh yeah, and Austin Meadows was a junior in high school, about to enter his senior year, to get drafted the following summer by the Pirates.

The Pirates have an interesting scenario with Meadows. He’s young and talented, but has a lot of upside and untapped potential. They can afford to keep him down for a few years, and don’t need to rush him at all. But his eventual call to the majors will depend on what they do with their current outfield. They’ve got three years to make a decision there, and as noted above, a lot can happen in three years. For that reason, don’t be surprised if the development goes slow and steady from here, as the Pirates have plenty of time to fully develop Meadows in the minors.

**We’ll be announcing a new Pirates writer tomorrow, providing additional coverage down the stretch as we look to expand the big league focus in September. This isn’t replacing anyone, but adding an additional writer for more analysis. I’m very excited about the new addition, and think he will bring an excellent perspective to the site.

**Prospect Watch: Two Hits For Meadows in Altoona Debut, Indy Going to Playoffs. A good debut for Meadows and a live report from Wilbur Miller.

**Austin Meadows, Tyler Eppler, and Montana DuRapau Promoted to Altoona. All of today’s minor league moves, along with analysis on Meadows, Eppler, and DuRapau.

**Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl Carry Curve Down the Stretch. Sean McCool with a great article on two of the most successful starters for Altoona the last few months.

**Pirates Call-Up Pedro Florimon, Deolis Guerra to the 60-Day DL. Expected move that couldn’t happen until today.

  • Instead of letting Cutch walk, why not trade him? Polanco and Marte both have more years of control and will be reaching their prime, and Marte can easily slide to center. I can only imagine the boatload of prospects one year of Cutch will bring. For the Pirates to remain succesful without the advantage of drafting early, theyneed to be able to part with their big names that won’t extend.

    I completely understand Yinzer nation would explode, but they need to be able to refresh from the minors, and restock the system through the big name deals. I also see this happening with Cole, once Taillon and Glasnow have a few years of experience.

  • There were three options presented:

    1. Letting Cutch walk.
    2. Trading Marte or Polanco.
    3. Trading Meadows

    it seems the fourth option was ignored…

    4. Trading Cutch.

    In June/July 2017, Meadows will have had another 1 1/2 year of MiLB seasoning. Cutch will still have 1.5 years of control remaining.

    If Marte’s the same player he is now, Polanco progresses, and Meadows is still tearing up the minors, (a lot of ifs, I know) Cutch would be 30 years old, easily affordable for the remainder of his contract, and one of the top players in the game.

    It would hurt to lose him, but, it’s what small market teams are supposed to do…capitalize on guys before they’re too expensive. There are few teams that wouldn’t have to give back their top 2 prospects and another semi-promising 1-2 in return for someone of his talent.

    If the Bucs keep winning, their best hope of attaining high-calibre talent is to trade their assets for it. In a perfect world, replacing Cutch with Meadows and replenishing the minors with haul from Cutch seems the most likely way to go.

    • As much as I hate the thought of cutch leaving for any reason, I was shocked it took til this point for this option to be brought up. It seems to me like the most obvious/best scenario

  • I have trouble lookign three eyars into the future and assuming players stay productive and desired, ergo making decisions on that basis is shaky.

    Cutch gets older, Polanco still isn’t poloished, and Marte seems to take some plays off. Until Marte and Polanco can hit as well as Cutch, either could be replaced.

    • So you are saying any player not an MVP can be replaced? Goooood luck finding a 3-4 WAR OFer that easily.

  • They will let Meadows linger forever in the minors and then say later he is too old to be a prospect OR they will trade him for minor league depth. One of the reasons I pull as much for Tampa as the Pirates now. At least the Rays promote their players.

  • I’m worried that you’re tempting the baseball Gods by saying there are only two scenarios where they need Meadows. There is actually a third and fourth, where one of the Dream Outfield gets hurt or their performance completely tanks. Knock on Wood. You have to include these possibilities and then say “knock on wood.”

    Also, Boo to the DH!

  • At some point in the next two seasons there is a pretty good chance 1 of the big three OF will be injured if at least even a few stints on the 15 day DL so there will be plenty of opportunity for Meadows before 2018 if he keeps playing the way he is in the minors. At this rate he Will be at Indy by this time next year. He is at AA a few months sooner than Cutch was I think? That says a lot.

    • Mike Trout was starting at 20 – Bryce Harper at 19 I think

      • Yes, in other systems Meadows might be getting pushed along even faster than he is. Those other guys are freaks though. It’s crazy to think he could be pretty much a finished product by this time next year. It seems like he just got drafted. That’s the beauty of when you draft a guy that turns out to be a stud. I’m glad the Indians took Clint Frazier…although he looks like an awesome player too.

  • What happens if Meadows turns in an .800+ OPS in the first half of next year at Altoona?

    Assets should be used to win as soon as possible – not horded like some sort of cool collection.

    If he plays up to his potential the BMTIBB needs to find a way to either get him to PNC in 17 or trade him for an upgrade that helps them raise the WS flag ASAP – just raising the Jolly Roger is no longer enough!

    I love all the comments about how great the Pirates have become.
    Remind me again how many WS flags we have in the last 30 years?

    • The old “you arent successful if you dont win WS rings” argument. Its a classic.

      Which would suggest the Marlins and Angels have been about similar in “success” since 2000. Marlins fans will disagree.

      • I’d honestly love to know the demographic breakdown within the win-a-world-series-IMMEDIATELY crowd.

        • I don’t see any difference between Pittsburgh and other cities when it comes to championships being the true measure of success.

          I’m a NYC area kid. Nobody talks about the 1999-2000 Mets.

          • Ha, I was going more for age than political affiliation, but I think that’s an interesting comparison and wouldn’t disagree.

            Conservatives have always been willing to sell the next generation down the river for their own personal, immediate well being. Which is essentially the WIN NOW logic in a nutshell.

            • Mercer can't hit RHP
              September 3, 2015 3:50 pm

              You lack self awareness and blather worn out and broad-brushed inaccurate memes.

              • You have an infatuation with me and provide absolutely nothing to this site.

                • Mercer can't hit RHP
                  September 3, 2015 4:22 pm

                  I hardly consider a post every other month as an infatuation, but I know how highly you think of yourself. Many liberals tend to be like that, at least what I’ve experienced. You are an arrogant aizzclown and I like to remind you occasionally. Nothing more, nothing less. Carry on.

                  • Says the anonymous guy personally judging others on a regional baseball message board.

                    Sure dude, moral indignation suits you well.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 3, 2015 7:55 pm

                      When you experience certain personality traits first hand, you can apply your experiences from afar. I’m not going too far out on a limb here. I’ve always suspected you’re a lib, and you confirmed it for me. Not that it matters one way or another, but it explains your demeanor.

                      I’m not morally indignant at all. You actually make very good points most of the time. The problem is no likes an arrogant , condescending tool, even the arrogant condescending types. You tweak people, why can’t I ? Again, carry on.

                  • Not helping the perception of non liberals by resorting to insults and stupidity. Imma guess everything in that post is based on “broad brushed inaccurate” assumption.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 3, 2015 7:47 pm

                      I said the ones I’ve personally encountered. That’s not broad brushing anything.
                      There’s a triumvirate of libs on here that stand out like a sore thumb, you , Leo and NMR. Peas in a pod.

                    • Literally never discussed political preference with either of those two, nor do you actually know about me. Swing and a miss on me, i just dont like morons representing things i may agree with like children.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 12:35 am

                      I know you’re a global warming believer which tend to lean liberal and Leo is not shy about his liberal preferences , while NMR confirmed his today, Not that you have to discuss your politics with anyone, but ones prose and attitude can be a dead giveaway. You tend to be conceited, but have a much more reasoned approach than the bull in the China shop Leo and the snarky, arrogant NMR.

                      The triumvirate loves to pick low hanging fruit, especially against BF stuck in MD , although you’re probably the most civil to him. I disagree with most of what he says, but some people feel the need to respond, because he’s an easy target. Ever consider taking the high road?

                      Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there is a select few who are pompous in their opinions, and feel the need to display how wonderful they are. As I mentioned to NMR, even
                      arrogant tools don’t like arrogant tools.

                      Congrats boys, I’m sure you’ll be receiving a faux trophy representing you internet victories. Proudly hoist that thing. Carry on fellas.

                    • Too much awesome to discuss from that post. Airtight logic all the way my friend, well played. Void of logical fallacies, broad assumptions, and irony. I appreciate you taking the time to accost me for not taking the high road during the rant taking digs at multiple posters and positioning yourself as superior.

                      We follow your lead.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 1:09 am

                      Yup, thin skinned, lack of reading comprehension and using predictable buzzwords. Thanks for the conformation. Lol.

                    • ^Trump vote for the win.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 9:10 am

                      He’s not my guy, but I enjoy how he gets under the skin of many. Another swing and a miss and almost as pathetic as Travis Snider’s K in his first game back against the Brewers.

                    • “…but I enjoy how he gets under the skin of many.”

                      Which makes complete sense, considering that’s the literal definition of a troll; your one and only role on this site.

                      Sweet life, I’d be so proud.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 4:14 pm

                      I occasionally respond to you. You on the other hand are a douchebag 24/7.

                      I’ll take my life over yours any day and that sure is damn sweet! Lol.

                    • No snark there. Proud of you or taking the high road in that one. Leading by example.

                      Troll on.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 4:33 pm

                      Dude, I take the high road almost daily, by keeping my mouth shut. Every once and awhile I veer off course and respond. So frickin what?

                      Sorry you boys don’t like getting called out for your arrogance and condescension. It’s a shame because you two make valid points. It’s ironic because I agree with most of what you two say. It’s just the method in which you deliver your message , that’s tedious.

                      Anyway this has been entertaining.

                    • Just pointing out the irony of calling out others for (tisk tisk) being arrogant while….telling others how they sound and whys its bad. Inherently condescending. You’ve got a bag full of stones and dont notice the glass around ya.

                    • Mercer can't hit RHP
                      September 4, 2015 5:29 pm

                      I’m sorry this has deeply offended you. Perhaps if you weren’t so thin skinned this could’ve been a teachable moment.

                      It’s funny how you try to pin the hypocrite tag on me (snark-free of course) while ignoring your own issues. You continue to validate my original conclusion.

                      We’ve now embarked upon the treadmill of futility. I think thing you’re pompous and arrogant and you don’t like being called out. I get it. I’ll move on.

      • But Angels fans are more disappointed this year – a collapse of epic proportions.

        I live in South Florida and many Marlins fans are very optimistic about their near term prospects..

        Two of the best players in MLB if the can just stay healthy pretty good depth and farm system.

        And they play in a winnable division.

        To be clear – what I want is for the Pirates to TRY and win the World Series EVERY year.

        I take NO solace in “being competitive for the next 5 years” meme.

        My old boss famously said “You don’t win Silver – you LOSE Gold!”

        • Considering moves you would love dont actually correlate to a guarantee of a WS ring, idk why you see logic at all.

        • meatygettingsaucy
          September 3, 2015 4:48 pm

          Yeah, they definitely aren’t TRYING to win the World Series. They should have the 2nd best record in baseball, not the 3rd

  • Not a Meadows question, but related to the AFL. Why isn’t Taillon pitching there? I assume he’s doing some kind of baseball activites and thought this might be a chance for him to get some live action.

  • I hope the Pirates work on his versatility this/next year. You know he can play OF, see if he is viable at any other positions. Makes him more valuable to us and to other teams.

  • BallHeadWonder
    September 3, 2015 8:38 am

    Is it possible to use Marte, Polanco or Medows as trade chips?? Trade 1 of them to fill a huge hole like 1st Base or get a Stud Prospect Pitcher that is in the Minors???

    • Trading Marte makes zero sense at all since he is signed until 2020.

      • Unless Meadows offers better production at a cheaper rate for more years of control. Meadows definitely has the ceiling to be better than all 3.

        • If running with that assumption (i dont disagree) itd seem cost effective to get rid of Cutch before Marte. Marte would still be cheap, still likely in his prime-ish. Cutch would be looking for a 5+ year deal at big money into his mid 30s.

          If Meadows offers above Marte level offensive production, they could slide him in while moving Cutch.

          • Cutch is the face of the franchise. He’s the Sidney Crosby or Ben Roethlisberger of the Pirates. He’s one of the single biggest reasons the Pirates are where they are. The Pirates stretch of winning this year coincided with Cutch’s slump ending. He carries the team. He’s on a hall of fame trajectory. Even if he’s a liability his last year or 2, I really hope he’s a Pirate for life.

            • My problem with that logic? It took until the 4th sentence to get to a reason related to his actual play, and none of it discusses future play until the last sentence.

              Even with Cutch, dont pay for what he’s done, pay for what you expect him to do. If Cutch wants market value, dont touch that contract. He’s gonna need to take a good cut to stick around. 2 bad years at 20+ million per year kill a team for a few years, and a few “okay” years mixed in before that make the deal difficult to contend with.

              Love him, hope he sticks around but not if its paying him 25 million over ages 34-35-36-37.

    • Prospects should be practically and realistically evaluated as currency. We have an abundance of talent at the outfield position to the point where players are being blocked. Balancing the prospect pool and obtaining 1st base prospects or more pitching makes sense.

      • The club already turned some of that outfield depth being blocked into literally the top first base prospect in the game.


        • Time will tell if Bell develops the power and defense you need at that position. I hope he does.

          • Very much agreed…but my point was more about this idea of trading for a 1B prospect. You shouldn’t be doing that.

            • I concur, most 1B start off at a different position. I’d say they are former OF, 3B, or C.

  • Don’t forget about Harold Ramirez, either. If his ton of upside becomes reality, then we have either some fine OF replacements or some trade chips.

  • If I was the GM this offseason I would either trade Meadows and Pedro or Meadows and Locke for a starting pitcher w 2/3 years of team control. Locke is horrible, and his few good starts aren’t enough to overcome the 60% of his starts like last night when he can’t go 4 innings. If the buccos really want to win the division year Locke can’t be a starter.

    • That probably isn’t necessary though. Meadows, a top prospect, and Pedro, a future DH that you can pencil in for 20-30 HR. That seems a little impetuous considering what the Pirates have done with pitchers the last several years. I mean, for that I’m sure there would be a decent return, but it seems overly aggressive. It doesn’t look like Meadows will hurt his stock in the next year or two, so they’d just be selling low at this point.

    • What makes you think anyone else would want Locke since he is “horrible”? And Pedro’s value is slim at this point in his career (WAR does not even justify his salary, so essentially he has a negative value).

    • Locke’s career record in September is 2-13. Last night he had only 8 swings and misses. The only skill he showed was the ability to duck and dodge screaming line drives hit right back at him. If that wasn’t his last start this year it will be a stunning mistake by management. Too bad they shifted Liz to bullpen, but Blanton, Worley and then AJ when ready give us a better chance to win.

      • When AJ comes back, and I think that is coming within the next week or two, Locke has to be the odd man out. Until then? Sit him his next start in favor of Liz or call up Worley.

    • I have a hard time with the “lets trade our terrible players for their best players” argument. What evaluation process do you go through to determine that we’d get a MLB starter, for a streaky power hitter and what you deem a “horrible” starter? It sounds great, but it’s more venting than an actual plan IMO.

      • “If I was the GM this offseason I would either trade Meadows and Pedro or Meadows and Locke…”

        Or you could actually read what he wrote and realize he’s suggesting to trade Austin Meadows, one of the best and most valuable prospects in the game, with either one of those “terrible” players.

        If you’re going to be a jackass, at least be right.

    • The Pirates have done a great job taking pitchers that seem to have no value and turning them into successful starters. For that reason, I don’t know why they’d send big prospects away for pitching. A starter like the one you’re talking about is going to cost a lot more than just Meadows and someone like Locke or Pedro.

      • Wait, a starter better than Jeff Locke with 2/3 years of control is going to cost a lot more than Austin Meadows?

        Highly, highly disagree.

        • I didn’t think he was just setting the bar at “better than Jeff Locke”. That’s covers a lot of pitchers. It seems we’re thinking about pitchers on different ends of the spectrum from that group.

          • Gotcha. Yeah, no TOR, but I think Meadows could absolutely get an above average (i.e. #3) starter with a few years of control.

            Regardless, I do agree with you that one thing the Pirates, of all teams, should be doing is trading hitting for pitching.

  • Long way to go. And I would say, you don’t necessarily have to wait for Cutch to become a FA, or the other two. You could deal them with a year or so left on the deal. That way you get a better return.

    Personally I still think Marte and Polanco have things to prove with the bat. Let alone Meadows. Who knows where the pitching sits 24 months from now. A trade could be required sooner.

  • Tim- I don’t follow other teams’ minor systems and histories very closely- how far is meadows off in terms of talent now, raw-ness, and potential impact from players that started in their teens/20 YO year? Ie) Harper, Machado, etc

    • For what it’s worth, Keith Law compared him to Mike Trout in that he has a similar makeup and has the potential to explode. I think when “experts” make their preseason top prospect lists, Meadows will be in the top 10 in a lot of them. I know that really doesn’t answer your question but he’s really about as good as it gets for a prospect.

    • Harper was truly a generational talent. No comparison.

      Machado actually is reasonably close, IMO. Meadows most likely won’t generate huge defensive value as Machado has, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he’d be a roughly league-average hitter as early as late next year, early 2017.

    • I don’t think any player compares to Harper.

      I didn’t really follow Machado to know what was going on behind the numbers. He didn’t light the minors on fire, but was aggressively promoted. His offense the first two and a half years also wasn’t great, with a .739, .746, and .755 OPS respectively. This year he has an .851 OPS at the age of 22.

      You have to wonder what might have happened here if the Orioles gave Machado more time in the minors. He was a 6.2 WAR player in 2013, although that was due to defense, and the massive defensive value looks like an outlier that year. He had a 2.3 WAR last year with good, but also more reasonable defense. This year he’s got that same defense, but the bat has also exploded, and he’s a 5.4 WAR player.

      Unless he signs an extension, he’ll be eligible for free agency at the age of 26. So basically, the Orioles traded two years of his prime for two years where the bat wasn’t fully developed.

      If the Pirates needed him, Meadows might be able to come up in about a year or so and hold his own. But they’ve got time to develop him, which means they could avoid letting the bat develop in the majors for a few seasons.

      • Do yourself a favor and copy that second to last paragraph. You’re going to need it going forward and it’ll be quicker to just paste it. It’s a fantastic argument for those teams with somewhat limited funds.

      • The Orioles seem to promote way too aggressively across the board.

        • You know, that’s actually a really interesting point. Orioles are also somewhat known for failed prospect development, especially on the pitching side. Not sure if there’s correlation or causation here, but it’s something worth thinking about.

          • Living in Delaware, I watch a lot of Orioles and Phillies games. I think both teams promote too aggressively. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausmann are both almost past prospect status now. It feels like ages ago that they were getting a lot of hype.

            • The exact two guys I was thinking of.

              The Matusz-Britton-Tillman-Arrieta batch before them also largely disappointed.

              • I see you beat me to that. And it’s not like Britton or Matusz are failures but if you told me 4 years ago that Taillon and Heredia were going to be 8th and 9th inning guys I would’ve been disappointed. Actually…….if Heredia turns into Daniel McCutchen I’d be thrilled. This is his new ceiling for me.

            • Bundy was up 3 years ago I think. Seems ages ago even if it was just relief. Also I don’t think they envisioned Matusz or Britton as relievers.

  • Thankfully this point is moot for a couple years.

    I think the best solution for Pirates would be to push Commissioner to adopt DH. Pirates would be able to promote Meadows, or Ramirez for that matter, to Pittsburgh without having to make room in OF. And they would be wise to extend Cutch if there’s a DH, too.

    If your a Pirates fan and you want to see Cutch play his whole career in a Pirates uniform, the best, and maybe only way, this will happen is if he can DH. Lord knows that arm, and his range, won’t improve in his 30’s.

    I favor the strategy of the NL game and would miss seeing it played night in and night out. But one can’t deny the DH rule in NL would favor Pirates.

    • Scott: I would like to see the Pirates make Andrew McCutchen a Pirate for his entire career. After 20 years of frustration, this franchise has become one of the best in baseball – better than they ever were. Lots of folks to credit starting with the Owner and Management team, but only one player – Andrew McCutchen, and I think a 6 year/$120 mil offer would do it.

      How many more years of the Root TV Contract? Can you get a ticket to games in June/July/August? Is ‘Cutch the face of the franchise? Was it KGB in Rounders who said “pay that man his money”?

      Marte is staying. The Pirates wanted to sign Polanco long term, but he and his people balked. I do not think the Pirates will make Polanco an offer that would be a lot higher than the Marte contract, thereby embarrassing Marte. It will all have to do with whether Austin Meadows can continue to put up excellent numbers, and develop some consistent HR power. Through Hi A and still only 20 – I like his chances.

      • Keeping McCutchen into his mid-thirty’s and decline, paying him $20 mm per year, and continuing to be one of the best franchises in baseball do not go together. One thing Neal Huntington has proven during his tenure is that he does not do anything other than what he thinks will make the Pirates a better team. The only way McCutchen plays his entire career with the Pirates is if he takes a significantly under market deal.

        • Agree completely. Unless Cutch is willing to give a home town discount and also take a short contract – which I don’t think is likely – then the Bucs would be sacrificing their future to bring him back. There are very few big contracts given to 32-year olds that end up well.

          • See Albert Pujols or Cano. Just have to enjoy Cutch while he is here. The only way he is kept is through an ultra-team friendly extension. A player would be crazy to not take a potential 200 mil that might be out there for Cutch.

            • Losing Pujols didn’t slow down the Cards. Losing Cano slowed down the Yankees for one year (although you could argue missing ARod for the year had something to do with that).

              IMO, Cutch will accomplish a lot in his age 32-37 seasons. He’ll have an outside chance of 3,000 hits in his career. And I believe he’ll have significant impact in causes off the field, some baseball related, some not. The guy is a leader, but to keep him here for his entire career would likely mean a steady stream of affordable pre-arb OFs flanking him during his second contract.

              Is that the best thing for the Pirates? Probably not if history is any guide. But there are exceptions to every rule. Every now and then some older guy goes out near the top. It’s rare, but it could happen.

      • I grew up cheering for Pirates in the 70’s. Watching Willie Stargell lead the team to playoffs and WS during his 30’s. There’s no doubt I would love for today’s youth to have this same opportunity with Cutch. Unfortunately, today’s business side of game is far different. And let’s face facts, the testing for drugs makes it harder on aging players, too.

        Will Pirates bite the bullet and pay Cutch market rate when time comes? I hope so, but I don’t think so. Unless the DH comes to NL between now and 2018.

        • Yes I enjoyed also seeing guys finish their careers as bucks but Willie was a shell of his self the last couple of seasons. Roberto also was injured during his last unfortunate season. Clutch doesn’t seem the type of guy who will hang on till the very end.

          • Bill: During his 30’s, Stargell averaged 29 HR’s per year and hit 28 at age 38 and 32 at age 39. His downward plunge came in his age 40, 41, and 42 years.

            Clemente missed a lot of games in his last year but still logged 378 AB’s and posted a slash line of .312/.361/.479/.840. He was in his age 38 season.

            ‘Cutch is in his age 28 season in 2015 making $10 mil. In his last contract year in 2017 he will make $14 mil. A six year contract will be for his age 31 through age 36 seasons. I would bell curve a contract that would start at $17 mil for age 31, then up to $20 mil for age 32, then $22 mil for age 33, down to $20 mil for age 34, then $18 mil at age 35, and then $17 mil at age 36. And that still leaves room for a healthy signing bonus.

            Could even talk about deferring portions of his salary – say $2 mil a year – that would be paid out at $2 mil a year for the 6 years after he retires. There are angles, and the Pirates TV contract will be getting renegotiated between his 2nd and 3rd year of this extension? I wonder how much that would mean – TV contract with ‘Cutch or TV contract without ‘Cutch? It’s business.

        • Without a DH, I do not think that McCutchen will be a player worth the “market value” that will be placed on him at that age in 2018. I love McCutchen, but it is his bat that will make or break him at that age…his range and arm are already subpar for CF. Without a DH I do not see any way he sticks around…

      • I just can’t get down with signing a guy for big money to play here in his mid to late 30’s. It is not what good small market teams do, unless that is they want to turn into the Reds and Brewers, who have not yet got anywhere as bad as they are about to be because of poor contracts like what you propose.

        And if he stays healthy and productive through his 32 season in 18, some lazy moneyed-up team like the Dodgers or Yanks will probably offer him that 6 year deal you mentioned, but at 5 to 10 million a year more.

        Cutch did us a favor with this deal he’s on, and will need to make the big bucks for his last contract. I want that for him personally.

        And I mos def don’t want to see Cutch breaking down at 35 like Holiday, but with another 3 or 4 years left on a long term contract as our highest paid player. I would rather be continuing the success of recent years personally.

      • If the Bucs really wanted to offer a reasonable contract to Polanco and were worried about “embarrassing” Marte, they could simply redo Marte’s deal.

        • I feel as though you see this a lot in football but never in baseball. I wonder why. Salary caps in football with the guaranteed money playing a part?

          • What I see more of in football is Player X redoing his contract so the team can sign Player Y and come in under the cap. To a certain extent in the NBA and NHL as well. That’s something you don’t see in MLB.

          • My guess would be thst it’s the fact that nfl contacts have so little garaunteed money. Usually when you see those reworks the players are only agreeing to it to garauntee more money. Converting future salary to bonuses and what not. Just a theory though…

  • don’t trade Meadows, trade Polanco when Meadows is ready.

    • Let’s see what GP becomes next year. From what I’m seeing this year, it’s possible Marte might have already reached his ceiling. He could be the one to move.

      • Marte is defensively the best outfielder we have. Regardless, trading any of the three should bring back a gigantic haul…I cannot imagine it happening though.

      • I agree on Marte, he still takes plays off or just gets lazy.

    • I’d rather see Marte go. I think Polanco has a higher ceiling and way better strike zone judgement. I think El Coffee ends up having a better career than Marte.

    • No way, Polanco has just starting scratching the surface of his hitting ability and more important his power. In 2 years he will hit 25+ homers. He has a very good arm just like Marte.