Starling Marte enjoyed a breakout season for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013, pairing with National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to form one of the most dynamic outfields in baseball.
Marte, 25 years old, is under team control through 2018 and is not eligible for arbitration until 2016. Even so, the Pirates were so convinced by his 2013 season that they reportedly offered him at least two multi-year extensions this off-season. Marte turned down those offers, though he is reportedly open to continuing those talks. From Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
"The Pirates are trying to sign outfielder Starling Marte to a multiyear contract, multiple sources confirmed to the Tribune-Review, but he turned down at least two offers this past winter.Marte, 25, will not be arbitration eligible until 2016 and cannot become a free agent until 2019. Although he and the team did not reach an agreement in the offseason, the sides are willing to continue negotiations, the sources said.”"
If the two sides were to agree on a deal it would continue a trend across the league with it comes to young talent, especially position players. In this case the Pirates would gamble that Marte’s 2013 campaign was a sign of things to come and that it would be worthwhile to buy out his arbitration years. It is relatively low risk on their part, of course, and there would be a good chance that Marte would end up outperforming the deal.
As for Marte, he has to weigh the option to cash in now with the risk that he would be underpaid, relative to his value, later. 2013 was his first full big league season; all Marte did was bat .280/.343/.441 while playing elite defense and swiping 41 bases. If he builds on those numbers his production will be staggering indeed, which explains why Pittsburgh wants to lock him up now.