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Pirates, McCutchen agree to new contract

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Pirates and All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen agreed on Tuesday to a six-year, $51.5 million deal.

McCutchen, 25, is now under contract with the Pirates through the 2017 season, and there's a club option for 2018.

Though he hit just .259 in 2011, McCutchen posted career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (89) while adding 23 stolen bases. He would have been eligible to become a free agent following the 2015 season.

Steve Hammond, McCutchen's agent, credited both sides for making sure McCutchen will continue to be among the focal pieces to Pittsburgh's rebuilding process.

"We were working hard at this," Hammond said. "It was something Pittsburgh wanted and Andrew wanted. We found common ground."

Floating between leadoff and third in the lineup, McCutchen helped keep the Pirates in contention in the NL Central until late July last season.

"This is an exciting day for the Pirates organization and for Pirates fans," said Bob Nutting, the team's chairman of the board. "In addition to being a dynamic player on the field and a leader in the clubhouse, Andrew is an outstanding representative of the Pirates in the community. We have said from the very beginning that our plan is to acquire high impact talent, then retain and build on that talent to bring a winning organization to our fans. I believe this agreement speaks not only to that commitment, but also to Andrew's belief in the positive direction of our club."

Though Pittsburgh signed outfielder Jose Tabata to a long-term deal last summer, McCutchen and the Pirates appeared to be far apart on what a new contract would look like. Hammond said McCutchen wanted to wait until he played at least two full seasons before getting serious about an extension.

"There was some risk in that," Hammond said. "We were willing to take that on and we did."

McCutchen's new deal is similar to the contract Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce and Arizona outfielder Justin Upton agreed to at similar points in their respective careers. Both players had two-plus seasons in the majors at the time the deals were signed. Once McCutchen reached that level of service following the 2011 season, he felt he had the right framework in which to make a deal.

"It was a better opportunity to look at those players and compare ourselves to them," Hammond said. "It worked out."

McCutchen's speed has made him one of baseball's best defensive centerfielders and his charismatic smile and trademark dreadlocks have made him one of Pittsburgh's most popular players.

The Pirates drafted McCutchen with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He made his major league debut in 2009 and is a career .276 hitter.