PITTSBURGH — The Pirates have spent most of the past two decades grooming talented young players only to trade them away before they became too expensive to re-sign.
They weren't going to make the same mistake with All-Star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
The Pirates and McCutchen, 25, are closing in on a new contract that will keep him with the team through the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018.
The details are being ironed out and McCutchen must pass a routine physical before it becomes official. A formal announcement is expected today. The deal was first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
McCutchen batted .259 with a .364 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage in 2011 and posted career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (89) while adding 23 stolen bases in 33 attempts. He would have been eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
PUJOLS DEBUTS: First baseman Albert Pujols went 2-for-3 in his spring debut for the Angels. The three-time NL MVP with the Cardinals drove in a run with a double down the leftfield line in the first, hit a sharp single to left in the second and popped up with the bases loaded in the third. "That was fun," Pujols said of batting in each of the first three innings. "Hopefully we get to do that a lot this season."
CRAWFORD SIDELINED: Red Sox leftfielder Carl Crawford will be shut down this week to let his left wrist heal, and it's unlikely he'll be ready to play by opening day. Manager Bobby Valentine said that the former Rays All-Star would held out for five to seven days because of inflammation.
DYKSTRA SENTENCED: Disgraced former Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to three years in a California state prison after pleading no contest to grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement.
BEATEN FAN IMPROVES: Bryan Stow, the 43-year-old Giants fan who was savagely beaten last season outside Dodger Stadium, no longer needs constant medical care and was moved to a new rehab facility, his family posted on its blog.
METS SAGA: A federal judge in Manhattan cleared the way for a jury trial on March 19 that could put Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz on the hook for hundreds of million of dollars. District court judge Jed S. Rakoff rejected a bid by the owners to have the remaining claims of a lawsuit filed by the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff's fraud dismissed, and he decided that the trustee was entitled to collect up to $83 million in fictitious profits from the men.
DARVISH DEAL: Rangers right-hander and former Japanese star Yu Darvish reached a multiyear deal with Topps that grants the company exclusive rights for autographed trading and game-used memorabilia cards.
OBITUARY: Former Southern League president and major-leaguer Don Mincher died Sunday at his Hunstville, Ala., home after a long illness. He was 73. Mr. Mincher, a first baseman, played 13 seasons and was a two-time American League All-Star.
A'S: First baseman/DH Daric Barton, who had surgery in September to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, received a second cortisone injection and will be shut down for at least three days.
BRAVES: First baseman Freddie Freeman, expected to miss one to two weeks after partially dislocating his right kneecap Feb. 28, may return to the lineup today.
MARLINS: Right-hander Josh Johnson, who made nine starts last year before right shoulder inflammation ended his season, pitched for the first time since May, throwing 12/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals. "Great outing," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He threw the ball very well and pain-free."
REDS: Right-handed reliever Ryan Madson is sidelined by a minor elbow injury.
ROCKIES: Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was scratched from the lineup with a minor illness.