Editorial: Here is the latest news regarding Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates could still deal Cutch despite what the organization has said.
As everyone knows, Andrew McCutchen seemed a phone call away from being traded to the Washington Nationals. After the deal did not happen, and the Nationals acquired Adam Eaton, the trade speculation settled. In fact, General Manager Neal Huntington performed some damage control, and spoke about how he plans on Andrew McCutchen being in the 2017 lineup. McCutchen also made comments on the matter over the weekend, and he sounded less than assured about his future in Pittsburgh. He mostly talked about how the trade rumors did bother him and have him on edge, but it is out of his hands. He spoke about how, as of now, he is a Pittsburgh Pirate, and going forward, that is how it will be, but was given no assurance if/when he will be traded.
The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to stress that they were not shopping McCutchen. Rather, they were being engaged in talks by opposing teams coming to them. Huntington has said that they are always willing to listen on players with expiring contracts, and teams know it. Opposing teams were making strong enough offers to get the Pittsburgh Pirates into legitimate trade discussions. However, they said, unless they are blown away by an offer, they will not look to move the projceted corner outfielder. Therefore, a deal seems unlikely. The team(s) who had the obvious need and pieces to send back have gone in different directions.
With that being said, Fox Sports Insider Ken Rosenthal is not sold on the Pittsburgh Pirates brass saying they likely will not move him. Rosenthal wrote in an article this morning that he believes there is still a strong possibility that Andrew McCutchen is dealt before the start of the 2017 season. Here is what the Fox Sports Insider had to say:
"“Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters at the end of the meetings that it was “unlikely” he would trade McCutchen.”“Perhaps, but I’m not convinced that McCutchen will start the season with the Pirates. And I sure as heck don’t believe he will finish it in their uniform.”“The Nationals acquired Adam Eaton. The Cardinals signed Dexter Fowler. But the Dodgers still could make sense, and surely other teams are lurking.”"
The Dodgers seem like the only current team that would have the value to send back to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Teams like the Mariners and Blue Jays, who had reported interest at the meetings, do not have the elite talent to matchup on a deal for Andrew McCutchen. However, the Dodgers do. If there is one team who would make the move for the impact outfielder, at this point, it would be the Dodgers, like Ken Rosenthal suggests.
The Pirates wanted top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito from the Nationals in a deal. The Dodgers equivalent in terms of prospect ranking would be Julio Urias, who the Dodgers will not move. A nice alternative however, would be their #2 pitching prospect Jose De Leon, who also is highly regarded as a top 40 prospect, and who is MLB ready. The Dodgers are the Dodgers, they like to make big moves, and are starting to feel the pressure to win. They have maximized their payroll over the last four or five years and have not reached the World Series. They have been told by the league that they need to start cutting back on their budget. If they acquire Andrew McCutchen, he would give them a high impact player at a below market price.
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With that, Rosenthal also leaves the door half-open. Although, he thinks there is a possibility Cutch gets dealt. However, he also says that he could start the year with the Bucs. He alludes to the Bucs waiting until the trade deadline to deal him. Hidden beneath that comment is another that speaks about Rosenthal’s expectations for the Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 season. If the Pirates are in contention at the July deadline, then they would likely hold onto Cutch. Rosenthal suggesting that he will not finish the season means that he feels the Bucs will not be in the playoff hunt, and therefore, have reason to deal the former MVP before the end of the 2017 season.
We Will See
It is more of the same. No matter what happens this off-season, Andrew McCutchen’s name will continue to be brought up in rumors. It is only the second week of December. There is still roughly three months before teams report to Spring Training. A lot can happen between now and then. Even if Andrew McCutchen starts the year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, there is a good chance he will be traded during the season as Rosenthal suggests.
The only issue from the Pirates standpoint is how much they believe in Andrew McCutchen rebounding from his 2016 season. If he does, he will be helping the club get back to post-season. If nothing more, they will be putting a big bet on him rebounding to keep his trade value high for the deadline. Say he does not rebound, not only are the 2017 Pirates going to have a tough season, but also his stock on the market will continue to decline.
I believe Andrew McCutchen will be a very good player again in 2017. Now, whether that is for the Pirates or not we will see. Regardless, Rosenthal is one of the best insiders in all of sports. He is still getting a vibe that this story is not closed this off-season. Therefor, expect to continue hearing speculation around Andrew McCutchen. The rumors and talk will continue up until the season, a later trade, or throughout the 2017 baseball season.