Pirates, McLouth Agree to 3-Year Deal
After an offseason of acrimonious negotiations that stretched from December to the brink of an arbitration hearing, the Pirates somehow found some middle ground with young center fielder Nate McLouth, with the two sides agreeing on a three-year deal this morning that buys out the rest of McLouth's arbitration eligibility. A club option for a fourth year also could take care of his first year of free agency.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic broke the story early this morning, and the AP has since dug up contract details, claiming that the three-year pact will be worth a reported $15.75 million.
It never ceases to amaze how so many of these relatively long term deals get hammered out in the final hours before an arbitration hearing. In this case, McLouth and the Pirates were literally hours away from having a panel decide whether McLouth would get $3.8 million, his desired salary, or the $2.75 million the Pirates had on offer. Instead, he'll get about $5.25 million after coming off a breakout year in which he posted a first All-Star Game appearance, a Gold Glove, a .276 average, 26 homers and 94 RBI.
As Kovacevic points out, the deal also means that Pittsburgh successfully locked up all three of its offseason multiyear targets, with pitcher Paul Maholm and catcher Ryan Doumit agreeing to long term deals, with each contract buying out the remaining years of arbitration eligibility and at least one of free agency.
So, are the Pirates stretching too far for McLouth, or is this a good deal? Should one impressive season for a young player necessarily bring $15.75 million in guaranteed money, especially given the current economy? Or would McLouth have gotten even more expensive had the team not locked him up?
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