BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Starling Marte wants to be part of what he hopes will be a long run of success for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Less than two years after his major league debut, the 25-year-old outfielder finalized a $31 million, six-year contract with the Pirates on Thursday.
“There are a lot of reasons,” Marte said through interpreter Peter Greenberg, his agent. “I didn’t feel I needed to wait because I like where I am. I have confidence in the organization and I feel comfortable.”
Marte receives a $2 million signing bonus from the Pirates, who are coming off their first postseason appearance since 1991. He gets salaries of $500,000 this season, $1 million next year, $3 million in 2016, $5 million in 2017, $7.5 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019.
Pittsburgh has an $11.5 million option for 2020 with a $2 million buyout. If that option is exercised, the Pirates have a $12.5 million option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout.
If Marte finishes among the top five in MVP in any of the next six seasons, the option prices would increase by $500,000 each. If he finishes among the top five in 2020, the option for the next year would go up by $500,000. The option prices can increase by a maximum of $1 million each.
The deal replaces a one-year contract agreed to earlier this month that would have paid him $516,000 while in the major leagues and $300,000 while in the minors. He would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and for free agency after the 2018 World Series.
Marte hit .280 with 12 homers, 35 RBIs and a team-high 41 steals last year, his first full season in the majors. When he made his big league debut at Houston on July 26, 2012, he led off the game with a first-pitch home run against Dallas Keuchel.
Marte has a .275 career batting average with 53 stolen bases and a .773 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“This is something that’s part of our plan to sign young men who are going to be great players,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We feel very fortunate Starling was willing to commit to us as we were willing to commit to him.”
Marte becomes Pittsburgh’s fourth player with a deal beyond 2014: right-hander Charlie Morton and outfielder Jose Tabata have contracts through 2016 and outfielder Andrew McCutchen through 2017.
“It’s an exciting time,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re not trying to build a house. We’re trying to create a home. This is tangible evidence that we’re creating a place where players want to be, a place where they want to thrive, a place where players want to settle.”
Notes: Pittsburgh acquired OF Keon Broxton from Arizona for a player to be named and assigned him to Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League. … The Pirates optioned RHP Brandon Cumpton to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League.