Should the Pirates Be Shopping Andrew McCutchen?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

A few days ago, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review dropped a bit of a bombshell on Pirates fans. According to his insiders, the Pittsburgh Pirates are likely to shop Andrew McCutchen to teams for a potential trade before the center fielder hits free agency within the next two years. Cutch had a down year, but is trading him the answer?

Two years ago, trading Andrew McCutchen would seem preposterous. Even sitting here today, it seems insane to be talking about trading the man who was most important to the revitalization of Pittsburgh as a baseball town. To be fair, he was subpar this season, with a .256 batting average, 24 home runs, 79 RBIs, six steals, .297 BABIP, and a .336 OBP. The star center fielder may be on the decline, but does it make sense to seek a potential trade?

This possible deal is going to be an enigma that can play out in about 30 different scenarios. On the surface, yes, it does make sense to reach a potential trade. But is it fair to leave a guy out to dry after he has produced for your team like no one else in the league has for the past five seasons? The MLB and the Pirates’ organization is a business, after all, so here are a few reasons it might not be insane to think about trading Clint Hurdle‘s baddest dude in the league.

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Potential packages

Holy moly, can you imagine some of the deals the Pirates could get for a star like Cutch? The sheer power that McCutchen’s name holds means that the Pirates could commit highway robbery on another MLB club if they can reach the right deal. If the Pirates were to make a trade, they could get at least a few top prospects from any club who wishes to get a chance at seeing McCutchen reach his full potential for them.

The Pirates’ farm system is already stacked, so a potential trade of McCutchen could get them a solid utility player or two, a few studly youngsters, and maybe even a prospective replacement for Cutch down the line. Teams will be falling over themselves trying to reach their phones to call Neal Huntington and offer their teams’ futures for a potential Cutch trade.

McCutchen will be a free agent at some point within the next two years.

Andrew McCutchen’s contract runs out after next season, with a $14.75 million club option for 2018. Now, we all remember our hearts fluttering when Cutch said he wanted to retire as a Pittsburgh Pirate, but it should be seen that the club doesn’t really seem to be rushing to come to terms on a contract extension. Any potential contract extension would most likely be very, very expensive, and the Pirates haven’t exactly displayed a tendency to splash out the big cash. 

Therefore, if the club isn’t going to try to extend his deal, then there is no reason not to trade him. At least that way, the Buccos get a few players for him, instead of him just leaving nothing in his wake. It sounds brutal, but once again, this is a business, and if the deal isn’t right, the Pirates won’t offer him a new contract.

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Maybe he’s just not that good anymore.

I felt dirty typing that statement. It felt blasphemous to say, but let’s face it. Cutch was a shell of himself this whole season. At some points, a groan of angst and disdain would roll over PNC Park as the once-heralded star stepped to the plate. It occasionally boiled over into boos. It may just be time to face facts. Andrew McCutchen held the Pirates back this year and his lack of production was one of the reasons they struggled so heavily this season.

If this is true, and Cutch is on the slippery slope down to baseball obscurity, then it makes sense to ship him off before his poor play affects his trade value. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope he regains form and starts playing like a beast again. Time is working against him however, because at 29 years old, he’s not getting any younger.

So where do we go from here? I wouldn’t start packing away the #22 jerseys just yet. The Pirates are most likely just gauging interest and seeing what kind of packages they could get from teams before they make any major decisions.

Hopefully, Cutch starts mashing the ball again like the 2013 NL MVP and charismatic hit machine we all know and love. Maybe he just needs to grow out his hair again.

Should the Pirates trade Cutch? Why or why not? Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts!

Go Bucs.