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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?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 17, 2009; 11:43 AM ET
Categories:  Pirates  
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not sure if they overpaid or not but I can tell you they will break the record for consecutive seasons below .500 GO BUCCOS!

Posted by: eggitmon | February 17, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

This is a smart move by the Pirates. They don't really have many good players on their team, so locking up McLouth and Doumit make a lot of sense. If McLouth even duplicated his performance from last year, let alone surpassed it, the Pirates would be on the hook for a big raise in arbitration next year. With this extension they have him locked up through his peak years (27-30).

What I don't get is why they haven't hammered out a deal with Adam LaRoche unless he just really doesn't want to play there (which who could blame him?). Doumit, LaRoche and McLouth are their 3 best offensive players. Locking up 2 of the 3 at least means fans will think the Pirates are moving in the right direction.

What they should be doing is cutting bait with Andy LaRoche. He may have shown talent in the minors, but he's been completely overmatched in the majors and looks, to me, like a perfect example of a AAAA player.

They should also try and get some value out of Freddy Sanchez, in hopes that someone will overpay for a former batting champ on the wrong side of 30. But at least he's above average defensively. The problem is by the time they're ready to really compete (assuming that time comes), he'll be 34 or 35 and have no value whatsoever.

Posted by: adampschroeder | February 17, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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