PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole are gone, but Felipe Rivero hopes that he'll be sticking around a while.
The Pirates and Rivero completed a four-year deal with club options for 2022-23, the club announced on Thursday. News of the agreement was first reported on Monday.
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"Felipe has quickly established himself as one of the best young relievers and best young closers in the game," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We are honored and humbled that he is willing to make the commitment to us as we've been willing to make a sizable commitment to him."
The contract is worth a guaranteed $22 million, according to an industry source, and he can earn up to $41 million over six years. Rivero was a Super Two player, so the deal covers all four of his arbitration years and the options would extend into his first two free-agent years.
"I want to be relaxed the next few years," Rivero said. "I just want to focus on the season and try to help the team as much as I can right now."
Rivero, 26, will receive a $2 million signing bonus, $2.5 million in 2018, $4 million in '19, $5.25 million in '20 and $7.25 million in '21. The club options are worth $10 million each, with a $1 million buyout for '22 and a $500,000 buyout for '23.
Rivero might have earned more money if he went year-to-year through the arbitration process, particularly since that system rewards players who rack up saves. But Rivero said this deal was about comfort for him and his family, not financial gain.
"It's not about the money. It's not about getting more," Rivero said. "It's the way, if you feel comfortable with the team, that's what made me accept this deal."
It could prove to be a bargain for the Bucs if Rivero continues what he started during his first full season with Pittsburgh. The left-hander posted a 1.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings, emerging as one of the game's most dominant late-inning arms and taking over as the closer in June.
"This gives us the opportunity to build a bullpen around him, to build a club around him and put our best foot forward to compete and do everything we can to win ballgames in '18, '19 and beyond," Huntington said. "It's nice for a manager to know he's got a guy with the ability of Felipe Rivero out there to close out wins."
Many have speculated that Rivero's reasonable contract, along with the recent prospect hauls for late-inning relievers Albertin Chapman and Andrew Miller, might prompt the Pirates to trade him in an effort to accelerate their current "retooling" process.
But the Pirates believe they will be competitive sooner than expected, and they want Rivero closing games for their next contending team.
"There's a lot of misinformation and a lot of false narrative out there about when we are looking to compete again. We're looking to compete again this year," Huntington said. "We believe that this club is a lot closer to the '11 and '12 Pirates and '13 Pirates than the '07, '08, '09 Pirates.
"Felipe, as one of the best young closers in the game, gives us some certainty at the back end of the bullpen and will continue to be an important pitcher for us as we go forward."