Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: McCutchen and Washington Targets
As of now it sounds like the Washington Nationals are close to a deal with the Chicago White Sox. So where does this leave the rumors between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Nationals regarding Andrew McCutchen?
As of yesterday man reports where out saying that the Washington Nationals hoped to acquire two of Andrew McCutchen, Mark Melancon, and Chris Sale. With that, Melancon has signed in San Francisco leaving only two of their remaining targets. As the night goes on it seems likely that the Nationals will be acquiring Chris Sale. According to multiple insiders including Jim Bowden of ESPN, the return looks like it will be the National’s top two prospects. Going back potentially will be Lucas Giolito, Victor Robles, and some. Both their names were in the mix in terms of McCutchen, but it seems the Nats rather use them to get the ace left-hander. With that many are worried this could take them out of the McCutchen sweep stakes.
This should not be the case. The Washington Nationals still have plenty of prospects and young MLB ready players to offer. Leading that list is Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez, who made his major league debut last year, will not be part of the deal according to Jim Bowden. It has been noted that the Pittsburgh Pirates have had interest dating back to the summer when they were scouting the Nationals. Lopez ranks as their number three prospect and was touted as #37 overall prospect in baseball. Although he is not as highly touted as a pitcher like Lucas Giotlito (#3 overall), Lopez still managed to crack the big leagues first. Here is what Rum Bunter’s own Marty Leap had to say on Lopez:
"“Reynaldo Lopez has an electric fastball. It routinely sits at 96+ miles per hour. He also throws a plus curve ball. Lopez still needs to work on refining his control, however, Ray Searage is the master at getting pitchers to do that.”"
As of now Lopez very well could be the center piece of an Andrew McCutchen trade. If the Nationals do acquire Sale their rotation will be pretty set in stone. The rotation would feature MAx Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, plus other options in Tanner Roark, AJ Cole, and Austin Voth. Right there is eight players, Lopez is definitely expandable as well. The team is going for their World Series right now, they may not want to take the time to let Lopez develop.
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There are other options that could be the center piece as well. A pitcher like Gio Gonzalez would slide right into the rotation as a veteran arm. Obvioulsy he would no be the headliner of a deal, but likely would be the only MLB pitcher if he did come in a deal. One issues with him is he is owed about 25 million dollars over the next two seasons. I doubt the Bucs would want to take on that sort of financial commitment in a Cutch deal. The same could be same for Joe Ross, who as developed in a really reliable number three like starter and comes with plenty of control. He would be tougher to pry from the Nationals compared to Gonzalez or maybe even compared to Lopez.
Outside of those players there are a lot of intriguing prospects to build around as well. First would be the National’s fourth best prospect in Erick Fedde, the Nat’s 2014 first round pick. He could be as ready as mid-season. After that would be another pitching target in Koda Glover. Glover may only be ranked as the National’s #12 prospects, but he sits in the high 90’s and has future closer potential. The last prospect could be their #6 prospect Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson could fill in as the outfield prospect the Pirates are looking for in Robles. Stevenson was a second round pick in 2015 and has put together a solid minor league career so far. Aj Cole is another name that is being brought up. Cole, a young MLB pitcher, has not impressed in the majors. He doesn’t represent an upgrade over the current young Pirate options.
Next: More on National Targets
Even with the Nationals trading their best two prospects for Chris Sale, they still have an intriguing system. Lopez and Fedde are both top 100 prospects and would represent the elite talent the Bucs are looking for. Gio Gonzalez would be a solid veteran to slide right into the rotation, while Ross would be a cheaper, controllable, proven, younger arm. Outside of them add some of the lesser prospects and there still should be plenty of potential for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Nationals to make a deal.