After multiple rumors surrounding interested teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates may now be inclined to keeping Andrew McCutchen.
In the early part of the MLB offseason, one of the most prominent names on the trade block has been Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen. He’s coming off a down 2016 campaign when he hit .256, but a reasonable contract with only one fully guaranteed year left at $14 million makes him a trade target.
The Washington Nationals appeared to be the most serious trade suitor for McCutchen at this week’s Winter Meetings. But they parted with a few top prospects to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, simultaneously filling a need and off-loading appealing trade assets.
Pirates general manager Neil Huntington has acknowledged a high asking price for McCutchen, which seems to be holding up any potential deal. Now, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Pirates are effectively taking McCutchen off the trade block.
Huntington on declining likelihood of McCutchen trade: “We’re not going to close the door but we’re not going to be making calls.”
— Travis Sawchik (@Sawchik_Trib) December 8, 2016
The Pirates were apparently focused strictly on talking to the Nationals, but the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners have been rumored to have some level of interest in McCutchen over the last few weeks. So an eventual deal is not out of the question, but teams with needs to fill in the outfield have started to look elsewhere do so.
At 30 years old, McCutchen is no longer top-level defender in center field. That has fueled ongoing talk of a move to right field, which Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle recently reiterated. Center field is much more of a premium position than right field, and if other teams view McCutchen the same as the Pirates do his trade value is not quite as high as it would have been.
Huntington did not close the door on trading McCutchen, but the chances of an offseason move have diminished greatly. Come next summer’s trade deadline, depending on how the first few months of next season go, McCutchen could be one of the top position players on the move.