A few days ago, Kieth Law reported that Andrew McCutchen was not entirely untouchable, though he was as close as possible. Of course, this rather boring and mundane observation sparked rampant speculation in the rumor mill created by the baseball off season. Team officials were later reported as saying the team had not and was not entertaining proposals for McCutchen. You can read more on this story here. Because there is no player I would rather see on the Nationals rosters (excluding several of the ones already there) I began to think of my own proposal for McCutchen.
Before I begin, let me stop and say if you are a reader that continually bemoans idiots posting stupid fanboy trades, then I invite to read something else. I don't believe that what follows is unreasonable (however exceedingly unlikely it is) but I don't want to deal with a host of ad hominem attacks. So, while I am posting this for the purpose of generating a conversation, if you know that you will be unable to contain your rage at the audacity of a poster to consider a trade of a mega-star like Andrew McCutchen, then please stop now.
I don't believe that the Pittsburg Pirates would trade McCutchen generally, but if they were to make a trade I think that it would require a significant overpay. When looking at what the Pirates need, the most obvious point of need is pitching, their 2011 rotation starters posted ERAs of 3.38, 3.66, 3.83, 4.21, and 4.79. None of them threw even 180 innings. Spot starters offered little hope as well with ERAs of 8.15(9 starts), 4.72 (8 starts), 6.48 (4starts). One might think there was a glimmer of hope in Brian Burres 3.86 ERA over 2 starts, until you look at an FIP of 6.17. Additionally, one of there better pitchers, Paul Maholm 3.66 ERA over 162 IP, is a free agent. There is hope on the horizon, Jameson Taillion, Gerrit Cole, and Stetson Allie are all top prospects if young and unproven.
Therefore, I would offer to trade the Pirates most of a new rotation for McCutchen. I would offer the following: David Price, John Lannan, and Brad Peacock. The major problem with this trade offer is that I'm reasonably sure, MLB won't let you trade pitchers on other teams. So, we would need to do a 3-team trade.
I chose David Price, because if there is any team looking that would consider trading an ace, it would be the Tampa Bay Rays. They have built a team raising young pitching and cost controlled talent. Additionally, I believe that the Nationals match up better with the Tampa Bay Rays than say the Oakland Athletics or the Chicago Cubs, who have also floated the possibility of moving top pitcher.
I initially looked at the Ray's with an eye toward acquiring BJ Upton. However, the stated goals of the organization is to add some offense to the team, so it is difficult seeing them dealing Upton. The Rays greatest needs are at First base and catcher, two positions we have surplus. David Price is a major acquisition, and I would expect that Tampa Bay to see something close to the Matt Garza trade, though I believe it is generally acknowledged that Chicago significantly overpaid there. For David Price, I would offer Derek Norris, Tyler Moore, Adam LaRoche, a pitching prospect, and 80% of Adam LaRoche's salary. The final deal looks like this:
David Price, John Lannan, and Brad Peacock for Andrew McCutchen
Tampa Bay Recieves:
Derek Norris, Tyler Moore, Adam LaRoche, a pitching prospect, and 80% of Adam LaRoche's salary for David Price.
Andrew McCutchen for Derek Norris, Tyler Moore, Adam LaRoche ( 80% salary), a pitching prospect, John Lannan, and Brad Peacock.
The trade will give the Pirates 3 solid pitchers, after sifting through the remains of their current rotation, the Pirates could field a solidly above average rotation. Price and Peacock are both young enough to anchor starting rotation for years to come, while still allowing fleixibilty for Cole and Tallison to contribute in the near future. And though they would be giving up massive offensive tool, they have a replacement in Starling Marte, a 23 year old CF who with a .332/.370/.500 line in 129 AA games last year. Additionally, the Pirates could sign another middle of the order bat at first base.
From Tampa's perspective, the trade fills a long-term need, a productive young catcher with 6+ cost controlled years and offers replacements for Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon. I think the pitching prospect is a cornerstone of this deal. The Rays model is based on building value through pitching. Taking a high-upside pitching prospect (Solis, Ray, Cole, or Purke as PTBNL) gives them the option to continue the cycle in 3-4 years when Shields contract runs out, or it is time to move Hellickson or some other pitcher. I could also see James Shields being swapped in for David Price, but I think there are some good reasons to consider why David Price is more likely to go first. I could also see sending Ian Desmond to Tampa Bay, because SS is one of the few places they could use an upgrade not affected already by this trade. My guess is that they would want to swap Desmond for LaRoche, then use the salary relief from Price to re-sign Kotchman.
For the Nationals, the gain is obvious, a superstar on his way to Cooperstown. The cost is also significant. Though some of the players traded here are role players rather than superstars. Peacock, Norris, and (Solis, Ray, Cole, or Purke) are a young, cost-controlled, star-quality talent.
Realistically, I don't ever see this happening, but it has been chewing on my brain so I thought I would share. Feel free to criticize below.