Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Mets in On Andrew McCutchen
Rumor: With the Washington Nationals moving on from Andrew McCutchen, another National League East team has begun kicking the tires on the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder.
Early in the off-season the New York Mets were deemed a possible team who would have interest in Andrew McCutchen. However, after signing back Yoenis Cespedes it seemed reasonable to count them out on the McCutchen trade front. It also appeared likely that the division rival Nationals were going to acquire the Pittsburgh Pirate. Fast forward to after the Winter Meetings. The Nationals acquired Adam Eaton, and the Pirate’s front office said it was unlikely for McCutchen to be dealt. However, with that being said, Neal Huntington did not completely close the door on a possible trade.
Enter the New York Mets. The Mets are trying to trade away one of their one year remaining outfielders in terms of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce. According to Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays have been in talks for a while trying to swing a deal for Bruce. If they get a deal done for Bruce they can used the money saved to add McCutchen (or another outfielder).
The Mets are also looking for a more impact center field player, especially a right-handed one. Right now the Met’s depth chart has Curtis Granderson in center fielder. Granderson has not been been consistently playing the position since his Detroit days. Granderson along with Bruce, and Conforto are all left-handed hitters. If they trade one of them and add a right-handed bat it will help balance their lineup, which is left-handed heavy. Also, keep in mind that Mets officials now view Juan Lagares as a fourth outfielder, defensive specialist type player.
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According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Mets have had preliminary talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates regarding Cutch. Rosenthal wrote in an article yesterday:
"“The Mets have spoken with the Pirates about Andrew McCutchen at a preliminary level, but the discussions have been “off and on” with no apparent momentum, sources said.”"
One thing that Ken Rosenthal does note is the Mets would have to get quite creative in a deal. He writes about how the Pirates wont a young pitcher in return who is MLB ready. We saw this with the Pirates trying to acquire top prospect Lucas Giolito from the Nationals. The closest thing the Mets could offer in a deal would be Steven Matz. There has been some suggestion of Jacob DeGrom straight up, however it is rare to see a deal like that made.
Rosenthal suggests this would be a complicated deal. If the Mets decided to deal say Matz, they would pull one of their relievers to the starting rotation, leaving an already short bullpen with another hole. On top of that they would have to trade both Bruce and Granderson, as they want Conforto to be the everyday right-fielder. Rosenthal says:
"Three trades might be required for the Mets to add a center fielder. They’ve yet to pull off even one due to the glut of hitters in the trade and free-agent markets"
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The Mets seem like a logical fit on the Pittsburgh Pirates side of things. They have a relatively solid system and pitching to make a deal happen. To add to that, if they did decide to trade Bruce and Granderson they would most likely add to their farm system. They could also acquire a back-end starter for one of those two. This would help fill the void if they would deal a starter for McCutchen. The Pirates likely would want an MLB ready starter along with one other high-end prospect. A deal that would look similar to the Nationals proposed deal would be Matz and 2016 first round pick Justin Dunn. Yes, Matz is more established than Giolito, but he does not have the upside Giolito possesses. Of course this is all hypothetical. However, it is still interesting to see that teams are still calling on the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder.
Update: Anthony DiComo, the Mets mlb.com beat writer tweeted today:
"Mets have indeed had “minor” talks about McCutchen, per source, but there’s no traction there. They’re not actively looking to upgrade CF."