Before you go getting excited about the idea that the Washington Nationals talked to the Pittsburgh Pirates about Andrew McCutchen this past July/August, it’s important to note that FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, while reporting that major league sources told him the two sides talked more than Mark Melancon at the deadline, did write that said talks are, “... unlikely to revive because of differences in McCutchen’s perceived value.”
That being said, Rosenthal wrote that the fact that Pittsburgh discussed a potential deal for McCutchen is, “... the strongest indication yet that the Pirates are willing to move their five-time All-Star and franchise player,” who is coming off a sort-of rough .256/.336/.430, 26 double, 24 home run, 0.7 fWAR campaign with the Bucs.
Washington and Pittsburgh did work out a trade that brought Melancon to the nation’s capital in return for hard-throwing, controllable left-hander Felipe Rivero and left-handed prospect Taylor Hearn, but the rumored discussion of McCutchen, “collapsed due to the large number of moving parts,” according to Rosenthal’s sources.
McCutchen, 30, has put up a career .292/.381/.487 line over his eight major league seasons.
He’s set to make $14M in 2017, in the sixth year of the 6-year/$51.5M extension he signed in 2012, which includes a club option for 2018 at $14.5M or a $1M buyout.
Rosenthal writes that 19-year-old, highly-regarded Nationals’ outfield prospect Victor Robles was a target for the Bucs when the talks took place, but, “the Pirates wanted more than just the Class A outfielder for McCutchen, and a number of other players would have been involved.”
If Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office do want to add an outfielder, they have options, Rosenthal suggests. They could use Trea Turner in center or at short if they sign a center fielder, or they could sign a corner outfielder and use Bryce Harper in center, though, Rosenthal writes, “their payroll flexibility... remains limited due to their ongoing dispute with the Orioles over television rights fees, general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Tuesday.”
After making plays for Yoenis Cespedes and Jason Heyward last winter, and acquiring Ben Revere, who had a disappointing first season in D.C., the Nationals would clearly consider an upgrade in their outfield. Will Rizzo find the right deal this winter?