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Pirates extend Francisco Cervelli through 2019 season

The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to a three-year extension with catcher Francisco Cervelli through the 2019 season, the team announced Tuesday.

A source confirmed to ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden that the total value of the deal is $31 million, not including incentives, as earlier reported by Yahoo! Sports. Cervelli will receive $9 million in 2017, $10.5 million in 2018 and $11.5 million in 2019.

"I want to thank the Pirates organization for believing in me," Cervelli wrote in The Players' Tribune on Tuesday. "Thanks to my teammates: I'm proud to call you guys brothers. And last but not least, to the fans: You guys keep me going every night. That's amore. Pittsburgh is a city with a lot of love. When I arrived here, people didn't know who I was. But it didn't take long for me to feel the love and respect that the people of Pittsburgh have. That's why I am coming back.

"Thank you for not giving up on me. I promise that I will never give up on this team."

Cervelli is hitting .276 with 18 RBIs this season, and he has thrown out eight baserunners. Since he was acquired by the Pirates before the 2015 season, Cervelli has recorded the best on-base percentage (.374) among all catchers while posting the third-best batting average (.290) and the third-most hits (160).

"We are very pleased to be able to reach a joint commitment with a quality player and person like Francisco Cervelli," general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. "We look forward to Francisco's abilities, passion and energy making us better."

The 30-year-old catcher has a career .284 batting average and hit .295 last season with seven home runs and 43 RBI. He played seven seasons with the Yankees before joining the Pirates last season.

Pittsburgh acquired Cervelli from the New York Yankees on Nov. 12, 2014, while Martin weighed his options following two seasons with the Pirates. Martin signed an $82 million, five-year deal with Toronto a week later, and Cervelli found himself tasked with replacing one of the best all-around catchers in the game.

"It was a challenge for me,'' Cervelli said. "Two options: try to play a little more than what I can do or just be me.''

Given a chance to start regularly for the first time, Cervelli hit .295 with seven homers and 43 RBIs while appearing in 130 games. Heady territory for a player who was told back in 2005 he should consider getting into coaching rather than try to pursue a job working behind the plate. Looking back, Cervelli can't help but laugh at the memory.

"I don't want to be a coach, I want to be a player,'' Cervelli said before pointing to Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "I got my coach there. I think I'd get thrown out every day if I were a coach.''

On that point, Cervelli may be right. In a laidback clubhouse, the Venezuelan is a firebrand. His walkup song is "That's Amore'' sung by Dean Martin, a tune that instantly made Martin a hit at PNC Park and fits in lockstep with the way Cervelli goes about his business.

"He's one of our culture drivers,'' Huntington said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.