Are the New York Mets a trade match for Andrew McCutchen?

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

As trade rumors continue to swirl around Pirates’ superstar center fielder Andrew McCutchen, could the New York Mets be a match in a potential trade?

There continues to be plenty of trade chatter centered on the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise – Andrew McCutchen. Ever since McCutchen made his Major League debut in June of 2009, the Florida native has been the team’s starting center fielder and most well-known player.

Andrew McCutchen is a five-time all-star, a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, he won a Gold Glove in 2012, and he was the 2013 National League MVP. Cutch is also one of the most popular players in all of baseball and has already established himself as one of the five or six greatest Pirates of all-time.

Sadly, it appears Andrew McCutchen’s time in the black and gold is coming to an end. The superstar center fielder is set to become a free agent after the 2018 season. So even if he is in Pittsburgh for 2018, it appears that 2018 will be his tenth and final season with the Pirates. However, it is possible that McCutchen has already played his final game as a Pirate.

Last off-season the Pirates came very close to trading McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. This off-season, trade rumors are once again swirling around McCutchen. The two teams most often mentioned as potential suitors are the San Francisco Giants, which you can read more about here, and the New York Mets.

As we have mentioned here before, a trade with the Giants seems unlikely. This is due to the Giants not appearing to be a fit due to their lack of young, controllable talent and poor farm system. With the Mets, however, it is a totally different story.

When looking at the Mets, they have plenty of players that could be used to put together a strong return for McCutchen. The first player the Pirates could look at would be left-handed starting pitcher Steven Matz.

While Matz battled injuries last season, he comes with five years of team control and is one of the best young lefties in the National League. After averaging 8.77 K/9 and posting a 3.40 ERA, 3.39 FIP, and a 2.8 fWAR in 2016, Matz made just 13 starts in 2017. He was plagued by home runs as he allowed 12 home runs in just 66 2/3 innings of work, and he posted a 6.08 ERA, 5.05 FIP, and a 0.4 fWAR.

Despite his struggles, there are few left-handed starting pitchers that have the ability and stuff of Steven Matz. A one-for-one swap of McCutchen for Matz is a trade that Neal Huntington should, and likely would, make in a heartbeat. Sandy Alderson and the Mets might be unwilling to give up one of their best young starting pitchers for just one year of McCutchen, though.

Beyond Matz, the Mets possess a strong farm system. 19-year-old shortstop Andres Gimenez is the Mets top prospect and a player that would be a great centerpiece in a potential McCutchen trade.

Left-handed pitcher David Peterson and right-handed pitcher Justin Dunn are both highly thought of pitching prospects that could be used as centerpieces in a McCutchen trade. Another left-handed pitching prospect that could interest the Pirates would be Thomas Szapucki.

Young emerging Major Leaguers such as outfielder Brandon Nimmo (.348 wOBA, 117 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR in 2017) and/or starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (4.27 FIP, 2.1 fWAR, 164 1/3 innings pitcher in 2016-2017) are also players that would seem to be of interest to the Pirates in a potential McCutchen to the Mets trade.

Assuming the Mets would not want to trade Steven Matz, the Pirates and Mets should be able to find a package of young players/prospects that the Pirates would like in return for McCutchen. A package of say Brandon Nimmo and David Peterson is one that would be a strong return for McCutchen.

This off-season the Mets have also been tied to Pirate second baseman/utility man Josh Harrison. If Harrison was also involved in the trade, then the Bucs could look to get an even stronger return with someone like Justin Dunn or Robert Gsellman being added to the package.

Next: 39 days until Bradenton

When the off-season started, I would have bet on Andrew McCutchen being a Pirate on Opening Day 2018. As the off-season has progressed though the odds of a trade seem to be increasing. As the old saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire and there has been a lot of Andrew McCutchen trade smoke this off-season.

There are still 39 days until pitchers and catchers have their first workout at Pirate City in Bradenton. So, the Bucs still have five weeks to decide what they are going to do with McCutchen. It is very unlikely they would move McCutchen once Spring Training starts and they will likely want this settled one way or the other by the time Spring Training starts.

While it remains unknown if Andrew McCutchen will open 2018 with the Pittsburgh Pirates or not one thing that is known is that the New York Mets would be a match in any potential McCutchen trade.