The Pirates have agreed to sign Starling Marte to a six-year deal worth $31 million that includes two club options. The deal buys out two pre-arbitration years, all three arbitration years, and one year in which Marte would have been eligible for free agency. It also gives the Pirates options on 2020 and 2021, while will be Marte's age-31 and age-32 seasons.
We haven't seen the year-by-year breakdown or the terms of the options yet, but this looks like an excellent deal for the Pirates, pretty much giving them the rights to every season of Marte's career they could possibly want. Marte's offense is far from a sure thing, given his troubles controlling the strike zone, but his defense and baserunning are good enough that the floor here is pretty high, and Marte is toolsy enough that his offense could well improve. It wouldn't shock me at all if he had a few 25-homer seasons in him.
Gambling on Marte for the purposes of controlling his age-30 through age-32 seasons -- those are the seasons the Pirates didn't control before but that they now control as a result of this deal -- is exactly the right move on the Pirates' part. Marte isn't like Neil Walker or Pedro Alvarez, players who aren't that likely to age well. Marte is a great athlete who still has offensive headroom and whose defense will give him good value even if he never finds it. All long-term deals are a risk, but this is precisely the type of risk the Bucs should be taking. Well done, Pirates.