Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/5/12

The Pittsburgh Pirates handed a six year contract extension to star center fielder Andrew McCutchen that will pay him $51.5 over the next six years, with a club option for the seventh year that will pay him $14.75 million.

The deal can immediately be considered a win for the Pirates, who didn't want to let their biggest star since Barry Bonds leave town as a free agent. McCutchen would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2012 season, and this signing buys out all three of his arbitration years, plus three (possibly four) years of free agency at an average annual value of $8.58 million per season.

In his three full seasons in the majors, McCutchen's career line is .276/.365/.458, and he's amassed 12.9 fWAR. He's hit 51 career homers, and stolen 78 career bases. Since his debut in 2009, McCutchen ranks seventh among all center fielders in fWAR, and the guys ahead of him are mostly certifiable superstars: Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Shane Victorino, and a pair of defensive-minded speedsters in Brett Gardner and Michael Bourn.

This signing not only says a lot about McCutchen on the field, but also the Pirates franchise as a whole. By giving McCutchen an extension, it shows the Pirates fanbase that the team is willing to invest in its major league roster in order to win. For a franchise that has had 20 losing seasons in a row, this should help bring some more fans out into the ballpark. The Pirates really haven't had a star like McCutchen since Bonds left town after the '92 season, and with McCutchen in the fold now until the 2018 season, it'll show the fanbase that the Pirates are ready to shed their loser label and become a player in the NL Central.

One thing I know for certain about this signing is that TOC's own Pat Lackey is going to be a very happy man for oh....the next three weeks or so.

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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