Pittsburgh Pirates, Starling Marte make mutual commitments with 6-year deal

Young outfielder,team make 6-yearextension official

jlembo@bradenton.comMarch 28, 2014 

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Pittsburgh's Starling Marte watches a throw to first by New York Yankee Yangervis Salorte after Marte was thrown out at second as the Pirates host the Yankees on Thursday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton during the final home spring training game of the season. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

GJEFFERIES@BRADENTON.COM

BRADENTON -- Thursday was another rainy day at McKechnie Field, which meant Starling Marte had to address the media while sitting in a small, white tent cramped with television cameras, digital recorders and reporters.

But the Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder was all smiles. So were the men who flanked him.

The conditions may not have been good, but the news was: The Pirates announced they had signed Marte to a six-year extension worth $31 million with club options for 2020 and 2021.

Neither side had reason to complain. The 25-year-old Marte is guaranteed financial security for the next six years, and the Pirates locked up a player with big-time potential for a franchise-friendly price.

Though he has just one full season on his résumé, Marte was impressive in 2013, batting .280 with 41 steals and 10 triples. Defensively, his play in left field made him a finalist for the Gold Glove.

The Pirates' opponent Thursday, the New York Yankees, signed Jacoby Ellsbury, an outfielder whose numbers last season were comparable to Marte's, to an eight-year deal worth nearly $170 million.

So if Marte can steadily produce at the same level he did last year, the Pirates have themselves a bargain.

"The big key for an organization in these types of agreements is you know what it's going to cost," said General Manager Neal Huntington, who also inked center fielder Andrew McCutchen to a six-year, $51 million extension during the spring of 2012. "Now how do we build around Starling, how do we build around Andrew McCutchen, how do we build around the good, young players we have under contract and the good, young players that we have coming?

"These types of agreements help you build around your core players."

Huntington praised Marte for having faith in the organization, especially because he possibly could have made more by testing free agency after the 2017 season.

"I like where I am now, and I really like the organization," Marte said through Peter Greenberg, his agent and translator. "I feel comfortable here."

The signing made a happy man out of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who gets to watch Marte and McCutchen motor around PNC Park's outfield for years to come.

"We're not trying to build a house; we're trying to create a home," he said. "We believe we're doing that in a number of different ways, in terms of creating a home, a place where players want to be, a place where players want to thrive, a place where the players want to settle, impact the community, impact the field of play.

"Knowing the type of young man he is and what he represents each and every day, that he will put forth his best effort always, I am grateful for the commitment he's made. I'm grateful for the commitment the organization's made."

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