It is a new day and with it there is more news and rumors regarding Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. This time the words are coming from manager Clint Hurdle.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle finally opened up regarding his former MVP center fielder to Rob Biertempfel on the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. After a down season and a contract that has two years of club control left, it seems like a logical time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to part ways with Cutch. His value is high enough to get a significant return, but it is not overly high that it would be hard to find a buyer and/or sell the trade to the Pirates organization and their fans. Hurdle, who has coached Cutch through all of his best seasons, is coping with the idea that Cutch’s day are numbered.
With all that being said Hurdle told Biertempfel that he understands the process that Neal Huntington is going through:
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“I’ll take it one day at a time,” Hurdle said. “I think any general manager that’s in a market similar to the one we’re in has to explore the possibility of (trading) players who have one or two years left on their contracts. You have to see what value is there to keep or to move.
“That’s the way we’re going to need to continue to operate. It’s the hard part of what we get to do.”
There a lot of key words in that paragraph that many fans will recognize from the last few years. First Hurdle speaks about the market size and exploring the possibility of trading players with expiring contracts. Now it is not often we see the Bucs deal players with two years left, but we have seen them time and time again trade one year players. We can look at last off-season when they dealt second baseman Neil Walker, or a few years back when they traded Joel Hanrahan. Last year many speculated that Mark Melancon was going to be dealt. Instead, the Bucs held on to him and felt it was better to deal him at the deadline.
With Cutch it would be hard to trade him in the middle of next season. The Bucs already discussed moving their franchise players to the Nationals during the 2016 season. The issue is that moving a superstar player in season not only affects the team and fans, but also the team who is acquiring him. The Nationals were going to have to give up a haul of players in return. As more players become involved in a trade it becomes complicated. The more complicated a deal becomes the hard it is to pull it off up against a deadline.
There are a lot of variables that would make a deadline deal complicated. The other reason it could make sense to deal him now rather than next off-season is that you play a risk. What if he does not bounce back like many are hoping? Say McCutchen comes out and hits .265 with a poor swing and miss rate, teams will really start to believe he is declining. Right now, many teams still view Cutch as a big time impact player coming off a down year rather than a declining player. If he posts another mediocre year the return will not be nearly as enticing as it could be this off-season.
Hurdle also acknowledged to Biertempfel that McCutchen knows that a trade is possible. Telling Biertempfel of conversations he has had with the Pittsburgh Pirate:
“Andrew has been very black and white in the conversations I’ve had with him,” Hurdle said. “He’s told me, ‘I’m under contract here, so I plan on playing here. However, I don’t call all the shots, either.’ ”
As of the beginning of the off-season, many felt that although there was a chance Andrew McCutchen could be traded. However, did it really seem likely? Regardless, as each day passes by and more and more comments and stories are shared. Andrew McCutchen has been the face of the franchise and a world-class player here in Pittsburgh. With that, there is a growing belief that there could be a deal made. The Winter Meetings which take place during the first week of December could be the time and place. Neal Huntington has always conducted most of his business at the Meetings. This is includes when he dealt Neil Walker their last off-season. Even if McCutchen ends up on the opening day roster next season, be prepared for a lot of rumors, speculation, and stories over the next month.