Despite losing to the Cubs in five out of six tries this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still a very good team and don’t figure to be going away any time soon.
And by anytime soon, I don’t just mean this season.
As the title suggests, the Pirates have just inked starting catcher Francisco Cervelli to a three year/$31 million extension that will keep him in black and gold through the 2019 season.
By my count, the deal was actually broken by the Pirates themselves on Twitter and has since been confirmed by a number of writers (Jeff Passan, Stephen J. Nesbit, and others). The Pirates have already released a full write-up on the deal here at Pirates.com.
Cervelli is making $3.5 million in 2016 and was set to become a free agent at the end of the season, so this is a true extension that bought out no currently-controlled years. Indeed, the deal is reportedly a straight three-year contract with no options, opt-outs or other activators, either – a seeming rarity these days. According to Nesbit, Cervelli will make $9 million next season (age 31), $10.5 million in 2018 (age 32) and $11.5 million in 2019 (age 33), before becoming a free agent at 34 years old.
For the season, Cervelli is slashing .276/.386/.319, and has already accumulated 0.7 fWAR due to his solid defense behind the plate. Last season, he was worth just under 4 WAR, per Fangraphs, and he’s well known for being a solid game caller and pitch framer, as well. In short, Cervelli is a good catcher, is relatively young and this looks like a fantastic move by the Pirates.
And how about the Pirates? They are seemingly very good at extending their own talented players for reasonable prices and until the right ages (hopefully the Cubs and Theo Epstein have as much luck with their young stars):
Extensions by Pirates:
Only miss: Tabata. Great track record.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 17, 2016
So, if you were hoping the Pirates were going to lay down over the next few seasons, making way for the Cubs, that does not seem to be the case. They are strong team now, and figure to be for at least a few more years.
And about that free agent class after this season? Yeah, it gets weaker by the day.