Pittsburgh Pirates: Notes on Trade Talk, McCutchen, Cole

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27: Andrew McCutchen; (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27: Andrew McCutchen; (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The trade deadline is now less than a month away and the rumor mill is starting up.  Here are some notes from insiders on what the Bucs could look at if they are sellers this deadline.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently 37-43 and in 4th place in the NL Central, albeit only 5 games back.  However, many insiders and reporters believe the Pirates may look to sell, or at least do a soft sell. The Pittsburgh Pirates decided to do a soft sell when they were in a similar predicament last year.  Those moves have paid off as they received Ivan Nova and Felipe Rivero before the deadline, who have become vital to the current roster.  If the Bucs take that approach again they have a few players they could trade off, such as Juan Nicasio, Tony Watson, John Jaso, and Chris Stewart.  The first three are all pending free agents, while Stewart has a club option for 2018.

However, the biggest point of interest to follow as the deadline approaches is the bigger names that could be on the market.  The one name that everyone knows is Andrew McCutchen.  Cutch has technically been on the block since this past off-season.  With Cutch being one of the best hitters recently, he could garner some serious interest at the deadline. With Cutch looking back to normal and under a very affordable contract next year of 14.5 million dollars, the Pittsburgh Pirates may get a deal that they cannot pass up.  Jon Heyman feels that Cutch is one of the top bats available this year at the deadline. Heyman has Cutch ranked as the 5th most valuable bat that will likely be on the market and the 2nd best outfield bat behind JD Martinez. Here are Heyman’s thoughts on Cutch’s value:

"Andrew McCutchen, Pirates OF. He’s regained his form and thus his trade value. Reasonably priced at just a tad over $20 million through next year.More from Rum BunterPittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres GonzalezPittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings FalloutPittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being ImprovedPittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official"

Meanwhile, Jon Morosi has reported that there have not been any serious trade talks regarding the former all-star outfielder.  Morosi notes that the biggest hold up is that the market is not very clear for teams in postseason contention who also need outfield help.  Here is what Morosi wrote in his column:

"Yet, sources say the Pirates have yet to engage in serious dialogue with potential suitors about the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner since failed negotiations with the Nationals and other interested teams last offseason.One reason: A number of teams that could pursue McCutchen aren’t entirely certain about their legitimacy as postseason contenders."

After McCutchen, the other big named Pittsburgh Pirates player that has been linked in trade rumors is starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.  Cole is having a frustrating year where he has had multiple stretches of good and bad games.  Still, Cole has the top of rotation type pedigree and two years of control left.  If the Pittsburgh Pirates get the right deal they may move Cole, according to many around the league.  In fact, Joel Sherman said on MLB Network yesterday that he believes the Pirates are looking toward their next window of opportunity, not this year, so they very well could be inclined to deal him without hesitation if the right deal presents itself.

Cole is the most valuable pitcher that could be dealt at the deadline, according to Heyman.  Heyman also has him as the #2 overall player on his list of trade candidates.  The only player ranked ahead of Cole is Blue Jay’s third baseman Josh Donaldson.  Meanwhile, right behind Cole is White Sox lefty Jose Quintana. Here is what Heyman has on Cole entering the baseballs trade month:

"Gerrit Cole, Pirates SP. Word coming out of Pittsburgh is that he very likely isn’t going anywhere. But the Pirates are willing to consider anything, and they’d get a ton for Cole with two years to go before free agency if they’d consider this. “St. Louis and Pittsburgh are the two teams in the National League I’m thinking will go right to the wire before deciding,” one talent evaluator says. The bet here is they do a modified sale but likely don’t part with Cole."

Next: A Look at Rivero's Slider

As Heyman says, the likelihood of a deal for Cole is low. It does not help that Cole has an ERA of 4.51 this season. Despite this, Heyman is still very high on him due to his years of control.  If the Bucs are able to target a team such as the Astros, who have a vault of prospects, they may be able to still get a proper return.  However, if they are not able to bring 3-4 top prospects in a deal, then it is likely he will be staying put.  If he does stay put, is it really a bad thing?