The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to sign outfielder Starling Marte to a six-year, $31 million extension, as first reported by CDN Radio's Orlando Mendez. Because Marte was set to become arbitration eligible in 2016 and hit free agency after the 2018 season, the deal locks him up through his three arbitration years and first year of free agency. The deal also includes two team options, as first reported by MLB Network's Jim Duquette. With the options, the Pirates have Marte under control until after the 2021 season, when he is 33 years old.
Marte, 25, hit .280/.343/.441 with 12 homers and 41 stolen bases in 566 plate appearances in 2013, his first full year in the majors. He's also a strong defender in the outfield. In left field for the Pirates, he posted 20 DRS and a UZR/150 of 20.1, both figures were among the best in baseball.
With Andrew McCutchen signed long-term and prospect Gregory Polanco nearing the majors, the Pirates have what appears to be a settled outfield for several years. McCutchen is signed through 2018 and Polanco will be under team control for six years after being called up.
Marte's deal might look extravagant considering the fact that he's played less than 200 major league games, but he projects to as one of the most complete young outfielders in the National League. At just over $5 million in AAV (average annual value), the Pirates are betting that Marte continues to play at a high level through his late twenties. After 2015, Marte would be due his first arbitration raise.
Even if the team managed to settle on a one-year deal before reaching the panel, a salary nearing the $6.5 million signed by Giancarlo Stanton this winter wouldn't be out of the question. Although Marte would likely earn less than Stanton, he could be pushing $5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and he'd be due for additional raises each season after that.