D-Backs Sign Justin Upton

This isn't directly Pirates-related, but:

The D-backs gave the talented young outfielder 51.25 million reasons to sign his name on a six-year contract that runs through 2015.

The deal buys out all three of Upton's salary-arbitration years as well as the first two years of free agency.

Upton, 22, will receive a $1.25 million signing bonus that will be paid in equal installments on April 15 and July 15 and salaries of $500,000 in 2010, $4.25 million in 2011, $6.75 million in 2012, $9.75 million in 2013, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015.

Nice move for both parties. The Diamondbacks keep a player who's probably as likely as anyone in the world to be the 2015 N.L. MVP for two extra years, and Upton never has to worry about money again. (Bill James recently ranked Upton the eighth most valuable young player in the majors, and I think even that underrates Upton considerably.)

This sort of contract is worth keeping in mind with regard to Andrew McCutchen. In fact, if McCutchen performs well to start the season, it might be wise for the Pirates to begin pursuing a long-term deal in a few months. The Diamondbacks' deal with Upton is a good one, but they waited until after he'd been accumulating service time for a couple years, and he cost them $51 million; the Rays, by contrast, signed Evan Longoria almost as soon as his career started, and they're only on the hook for $17.5 million guaranteed, plus team options for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

McCutchen isn't quite on the same tier as Upton and Longoria talent-wise, but he's close, and he's as close as it gets to being a sure thing--he's extremely well-rounded as a ballplayer, he's young, he's athletic, he'll have defensive value regardless of how well he hits, and he's about as injury-proof as they come. All those traits suggest he'll age well. There certainly shouldn't be any rush to sign McCutchen, but I hope the Pirates at least have it in the backs of their minds, because it could save them big money later if they do it fairly soon.

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