Pirates close to extension with Marte

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pirates outfielder Starling Marte on Wednesday agreed to terms with the Pirates on a six-year contract extension that contains two club options, according to a source. The contract is worth $31 million, MLB Network Radio reported, and could keep Marte in Pittsburgh until 2021 if both options are exercised.

The contract buys out all three of the 25-year-old Marte's arbitration years and at least one year of free agency, providing the Pirates with cost certainty for a player whose athleticism and talent point toward improved production and higher salaries as a result. Marte, for his part, received long-term financial stability.

“It is a part of our plan as we go forward to try and extend young players but it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this point,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

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Marte signed with the Pirates out of the Dominican Republic for $85,000 in 2007. He debuted in 2012, hitting a home run in Houston on the first pitch he saw, and played his first full season in 2013. Serving mostly as the leadoff batter, he hit .280 with a .343 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 41 stolen bases.

“I think that’s a great deal for him and for his family too,” starter Francisco Liriano said. “That way, he can play more, not thinking about next year or the next couple years. They got [Andrew McCutchen] and Marte and a couple guys [under contract]. They want to keep the team and win in the future.”

Marte is built like a boxer, and has incredible speed and a powerful arm. He saved 22 runs above average last season and was a finalist for the National League Gold Glove award.

He still has room to improve. He walked only 25 times in 566 plate appearances to go with 138 strikeouts, and the 15 times he was caught stealing led the NL.

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