It seems like there's a little tidbit of Andrew McCutchen extension-related news trickling out each day. Here's today's. Neal Huntington says the Pirates will consider a new contract for McCutchen at the "appropriate time."
"[T]hree years is an awfully long time," Huntington said.
"At the same time, we do want to honor his interest," Huntington told ESPN on Tuesday. "And at the appropriate time, in the appropriate way, we will look to see if there is a common financial ground that allows us to build a championship team around a given player. And that is always the challenge.
"Any team can basically afford any player. It's just how do you afford championship-caliber players around that one player. ...
"There's a lot that goes into the equation, a lot more than simply saying we'd love him to stay and him saying he'd love to say. There's a lot that goes into that answer in reality."
Huntington is right that the three years (well, two years plus an option) remaining on McCutchen's current contract is a very long time. In baseball terms, it's an eternity. That could mean that McCutchen will be an entirely different player by the time his current deal expires. It also means that whether he gets an extension is not nearly as pressing an issue as the news cycle has made it seem lately.
We're written about this here before, but my basic outlook hasn't changed much. It would be great if the Pirates were able to keep McCutchen forever. But given that the Bucs already control him through his age-31 season, any extension for him is likely to involve paying a whole lot of money for what could well be seasons in which he declines. Despite all the seeming urgency about an extension, McCutchen's contract situation right now is already very favorable to the Pirates.
Unless McCutchen is willing to sign for a fair bit less than market value, then, I'd prefer that the Pirates focus on extensions for younger players like Gregory Polanco and perhaps Gerrit Cole or even, if the next few months go well, Tyler Glasnow. In several years, those players could well be in the midst of their peaks. With McCutchen, that's unlikely to be the case, and the Pirates need to base the parameters of any extension discussions not on what he's already done, but on what he's likely to do in the future. Maybe there's a judicious way for the Pirates to extend McCutchen, but it will be tough.