With the off-season officially underway it is time for the rumor mill to really start going. Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will be brought up a lot this off-season. Whether we should trade him or not is a lingering question, but if we do, who could a trade partner be?
Toward the end of the Pittsburgh Pirates season, many started to question if it would be Andrew McCutchen‘s final season in Pittsburgh. Many believe that Andrew McCutchen is disgruntled here in Pittsburgh, and that it would benefit both sides to split ways. From the Pirates side it makes sense. They can trade him while he still has relatively high value, regardless of him having a down season. They can also acquire a nice package of players back with some who could contribute in 2017 while others down the road.
The Cleveland Indians might be the best team to deal with, in regards to Andrew McCutchen. The biggest need for the Pittsburgh Pirates this off-season is starting pitching. Meanwhile, like many saw in the World Series, the biggest need for the Cleveland Indians is outfield. As of now the Indians are set to lose outfielders Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis to free agency.
The Indians do have Michael Brantley returning from injury. Brantley missed all of the 2016 season, and there is not telling how he will respond. Even with that, they seemed to have been extremely disappointed in Tyler Naquin after his misplay in the world series which encompassed his poor all-around season defensively. Also, the Indians expect to lost impact bat Mike Napoli this off-season leaving a giant hole in the middle of their lineup. Andrew McCutchen would help fill the hole in the outfield and the lineup, all the while being affordable for the small market Indians.
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Meanwhile, on the Pittsburgh Pirates side of things, the Bucs could acquire a high upside arm from the Indians. Currently the Indians rotation projects as follows: Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, Travor Bauer, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco (according to mlb.com). They also have rotation candidates in Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merrit, and Cody Anderson who all have big league experience. Lastly, they have a few prospects in Adam Plutko and Shawn Morimando who are MLB ready.
The Indians have plenty of pitching depth to offer up for Andrew McCutchen. There is no reason that the talks should not start around one of Danny Salazar or Carlos Carrasco. With the Bucs trading away an all-star caliber outfielder with two years of control, there is no reason that they cannot obtain one of the many high upside controllable Indians arms. Oh and by the way, in his last 50 games McCutchen posted his career line at the plate. He was much better the last two months of the season and many did not realize it.
The base of a deal would have to start around McCutchen and one of Salazar and Carrasco. There likely would be other moving parts in a trade with the Indians. However, without one of the two starters listed, there should be no deal on the Bucs side of things. With that, the Indians should be okay with moving one of those arms with plenty of depth behind them. Also, we saw this year that the Indians are not afraid to make a splash trade. The World Series runner-up moved several top prospects, including a top 25 prospect in all of baseball, for Andrew Miller.
If the Indians are serious about making another run for the World Series, they need to upgrade their offense. If the Bucs are serious about trading McCutchen, they need to target the Indians starting pitching for an appropriate return. The two seem perfect trade partners, and both should be calling one another this off-season.
Click Here for the Article for the Introduction to the McCutchen Trade Fit Series
Also Stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference