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Francisco Cervelli's extension is great for the Pirates

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Pittsburgh holds on to another member of its impressive core for well below what he could have earned this offseason.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Berry of MLB.com is reporting that the Pirates have signed Francisco Cervelli to a three year extension that will keep in him Pittsburgh through 2019:

It looks like a fantastic, below-market deal for the Pirates, who could have lost Cervelli to free agency this offseason.

Since being liberated from the Yankees in a trade for Justin Wilson, Cervelli has emerged as one of the best catchers in baseball at a position where production is especially low around the league. He combines great on-base skills (.360 lifetime OBP) with a fantastic defensive reputation in a modern age where pitch framing is considered a crucial skill. In 2015, according to Baseball Prospectus, he saved the second most runs in the Majors with his framing skills alone:

Name

Team

Framing Runs

Yasmani Grandal

Dodgers

25.6

Francisco Cervelli

Pirates

19.0

Tyler Flowers

White Sox

16.7

Miguel Montero

Cubs

16.0

Chris Iannetta

Angels

14.4

While he has been injury prone in the past, those injuries have generally not recurred, and he has a lot less wear on his body than most catchers do at 30. He was worth 3-4 wins above replacement last year, and is on pace to do it again in 2016. On the open market, Cervelli could have commanded $15 million a year easily. His absence makes an already awful free agent class even more dreadful.

The Pirates have a pretty fantastic track record with their contract extensions for their young stars. In addition to Cervelli, Jeff Passan reminds us of the following deals they've worked out to cover their stars past their first seasons of free agency:

It's weird to think that, after spending decades in the wilderness, the Pirates are an organization players want to join and stay in (not that I blame them; Pittsburgh's a super underrated city). It's a testament to the work Neal Huntington has done building a strong, young, data-friendly team. Cervelli's extension is just the latest sign that the Pirates intend to extend their competitive window for still years to come, and that they have the tools to do it.