When the news came down overnight as Sunday turned to Monday that the Pirates and right fielder Gregory Polanco are inching closer to inking a contract that could keep him in town until 2023, my first thought was simple.

“I can’t believe he went for it,” I said to myself.

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But apparently, according to multiple reports, the 24-year-old Polanco either loves it enough here or is unwilling to take a chance betting on himself to wrestle more money, and will throw his John Hancock to a contract that will pay him in the mid $30 million range total the first five season with the potential to earn about $20 million more in the final two.

What a steal for the Pirates.

Good for them.

They got a(nother) player to buy into this as it is similar to a deal Starling Marte signed in 2013 and one kind of like Andrew McCutchen signed in 2014 where the club grabs what could be prime years of performance without having to pay what could be ultra-expensive arbitration sums.

Again, good for the Pirates.

That’s savvy business.

That’s getting it done; that’s potential maximum return on investment.

And if something were to happen with Polanco over the span of the first five seasons, the Pirates can simply walk away and not pick up those two option seasons, spending “only” $35 million or so and what amounts to peanuts for an everyday guy of Polanco’s potential in this current climate.

There are some questions that come from all of this if/when the deal gets done, however.

Where does this leave Andrew McCutchen? Will the Pirates do anything to keep him beyond his current club control through the 2018 season?

Or does the almost-certain signing of Polanco leave an almost-certain outfield of Polanco, Marte and Austin Meadows as the Pirates take the field for 2019 — or maybe even sooner if they chose to trade McCutchen.

It’s a fair question.

They are all fair questions.

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McCutchen has recently expressed his interest about wanting to be here for the long haul, about wanting to play an extended time — and perhaps his whole career — in a Pirates uniform. That said, McCutchen is no dummy. Neither is his agent, Steve Hammond. They both also understand fair market value.

But if there really is that genuine interest from McCutchen about playing long-term in Pittsburgh and finishing up his career here, he should have his people reach out to the organization while the ink is still drying on Polanco’s contract and speak up.

McCutchen should tell them he wants to end all the speculation, stop all the talk and get this “Pirate for life” thing done.

A fair number? Rip up his contract and go eight years from right now at $25 million per season.

That would give McCutchen a healthy $200 million in this contract (almost assuredly his last) and give the Pirates the face of their franchise until he was 37 years old.

I’m not seeing how this isn’t a win-win.

I’m not seeing the negative in any of this.

It would also give the Pirates a healthy piece of trade bait at the deadline the next few seasons in Austin Meadows; a piece they can use to add that pitcher so many demand as the regular season wanes.

Unless, that is, the Pirates have Meadows as potentially better than McCutchen or, at the very least, ready to take his spot in the starting outfield in 2019.

It’s all a guessing game at this point, all a lot of figuring out to do and, frankly, some time to figure it out.

But if I were McCutchen, as soon as this Polanco deal got done, if I were really serious about ending my career as a Pirate, I’d go to the organization and make them a hard offer.

Could you imagine Marte, McCutchen and Polanco patrolling that PNC Park outfield for pretty much the entirety of their careers?

It’s some thought, isn’t it?

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can email him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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