In the first round of the 2005 draft, three National League Central teams selected highly touted center fielders who rapidly became their top prospects. With the 11th pick, the Pittsburgh Pirates got Andrew McCutchen—and now that they've signed him to a six-year, $51 million deal that buys out two years of his free agency, they're the clear winners, for once.
The contract is interesting, among other reasons, for being almost exactly the same deal the Reds agreed to with their own super-prospect, Jay Bruce, following the 2010 season. The Pirates clearly have the better end of those deals; McCutchen has been a better hitter since reaching the major leagues and also managed to stick in center.
The Cardinals—who seemed likely to win out, at first—have settled permanently into third place. Colby Rasmus, the 18th pick in that draft, was the best prospect of all of them and had an outstanding 2010, but after his relationship with the team rapidly disintegrated last year he was traded low for half a season of Edwin Jackson. In case you were wondering, he'll be making $2.7 million in 2012.
Here's how it shakes out, according to Fangraphs WAR, through 2011:
- Andrew McCutchen, 12.9
- Jay Bruce, 11.3
- Colby Rasmus, 7.9