Pirates Plan To Keep Andrew McCutchen


After a week of swirling trade rumors, the Pittsburgh Pirates now plan to keep superstar outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

Beginning on last Thursday, the rumors began to fly. These rumors surrounded Pittsburgh Pirate superstar Andrew McCutchen. And due to these rumors it appeared the former National League MVP may have played his final game in Pittsburgh.

On more than one occasion it appeared an Andrew McCutchen was imminent. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Washington Nationals were all teams connected to McCutchen. However, the most serious suitor always appeared to be the Nationals.

Any speculation involving the Nationals and McCutchen ended on Wednesday afternoon. This was due to the Nationals trading for Chicago White Sox centerfield Adam Eaton. Once this happened, it appeared McCutchen would most likely remain a Pirate.

Then on Wednesday, Jon Heyman reported that the Pirates planned to keep Andrew McCutchen. Additionally, he reported the Pirates plan to move him out of center field in 2017.

In my opinion, this is the best case scenario for the Pirates. Not only are the Pirates keeping their franchise player in Andrew McCutchen, but they also plan to move him out of center field. Remember, in 2016 McCutchen was the worst defensive center fielder in baseball with -29 defensive runs saved.

In my opinion, the Pirates’ best outfield defense would feature Andrew McCutchen in right field. On top of this I would put Starling Marte in center field and Gregory Polanco in left field. Ultimately, this is the outfield defensive alignment I expect to see in 2017.

Now that the Pirates know they are keeping McCutchen, I expect their offseason action to accelerate. The team’s biggest need remains starting pitching. Now that they know they will not be getting starting pitching help in return for McCutchen, I expect Neal Huntington to begin to look elsewhere.

Two players I still expect to be on the trade market are second baseman Josh Harrison and relief pitcher Tony Watson. Both could net starting pitching help in returns and both are not players that the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates need in order to compete.

One team that I know is interested in Harrison is the Los Angeles Dodgers. I would love to see the Pirates send Harrison to the Dodgers for left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. But, that is a discussion for another day.

Next: The Pirates Should Shop Tony Watson

I fully expect Andrew McCutchen to have a big bounce back season in 2017. Not only was he an above average hitter over the final two months of 2016 (.365 wOBA and 131 wRC+) his Steamer Projections for 2017 are also very favorable. They project McCutchen to post a .378 on-base percentage, .362 wOBA, a 130+, and a 3.6 WAR. However, with McCutchen moving out of center field I would expect his WAR projection to move to being over 4.0.