ONCE-CLUTCH CUTCH SLIPS UP
A BOUNCE-BACK CANDIDATE
McCutchen could be a major bounce-back candidate next season. He just turned 30 years old in October, and has just one more guaranteed season on his contract at $14 million. There is a $14.75 million team option for 2018 with a relatively inconsequential buyout.
The Pirates could take him into the 2017 season, in which case he would become a major trade deadline piece. Then should the club fail to contend, but he produce that bounce-back season, they could look to deal him in July.
However, he might prove more valuable right now. This would allow an acquiring team to plan its lineup with his presence in mind. They would also have McCutchen for all of Spring Training and the entire season.
A number of clubs have been linked to possible McCutchen talks with the Pirates. Going back to last season, the Washington Nationals were reportedly discussing such a deal.
A rumored lead piece coming back to Pittsburgh in those talks was outfielder Victor Robles. However, Robles was sensational last season, and is now considered a top ten prospect in all of baseball. It is doubtful the Nats would surrender him for one season of McCutchen.
The New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Dodgers have all been linked to McCutchen through various rumors.
Bucs manager Clint Hurdle was quoted by Rob Biertempfel of triblive.com during the World Series: “Andrew has been very black and white in the conversations I’ve had with him. He’s told me, ‘I’m under contract here, so I plan on playing here. However, I don’t call all the shots, either.’”
Hurdle further went on to discuss the reality facing the Pirates in a small market with players in McCutchen’s contract situation:
How they choose to handle the McCutchen situation makes the Pirates one of the more interesting teams as baseball’s Winter Meetings open next weekend. But even if nothing is done in National Harbor, they still have all winter, and even into next season, to consider such a move.