BRADENTON, Fla. -- He's still three years away from free agency. But Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said Monday that if the Pirates have interest in keeping him in Pittsburgh, he shares that interest.
Asked on the day Pirates position players reported to spring training whether he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, McCutchen replied: "I think you know that answer. I don't need to answer that, really. But everyone knows I want to be here. So that's nothing new to anyone."
McCutchen, 29, is four years into a six-year, $51.5 million contract which he signed in March of 2012, as he was approaching his first season of arbitration eligibility. He is scheduled to make $13 million this season and $14 million in 2017. The Pirates then hold a club option, at $14.5 million, for 2018. So unless the club tears up that deal as part of an extension, he won't rank among the top 20 highest-paid outfielders in any of the next three seasons.
However, McCutchen has said repeatedly that "money doesn't define me." He repeated those sentiments Monday, but when asked if that meant he would take a significant discount to stay in Pittsburgh, he chose his words carefully.
"I don't know what my market value is," McCutchen said. "I haven't discussed that with my agent. So I still stick with the [idea that] money doesn't define me because it doesn't. But it's not altered like that in this game. No one plays for free. People rarely ever work for free. But you know, whenever that time comes, that time comes. But I'm trying not to think about it too much."
McCutchen spoke to the media Monday while wearing a "Retire 21" T-shirt, which he said was given to him as part of a campaign to have baseball retire the number of former Pirates great Roberto Clemente across all 30 teams. McCutchen said he is merely wearing the shirt because he thinks it's "cool," and that he isn't interested in leading that campaign. But he would support that change if baseball were willing to implement it.
"I mean, Clemente is Clemente," he said. "Everyone knows who he is. Everyone knows what he stood for, the type of player that he was. If they ever were to do something like that, retire 21, that would be awesome. ... I'm not telling them to do something like that. It's just a really cool thought, or just more of a remembrance. Just basically remember who he was, remember what he stands for. That's who I try to mold my game after, and my personality, on and off the field. So it's just more of a reminder to myself."