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Washington Nationals Rumors: Latest Andrew McCutchen trade chatter; Closer option

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Will the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates be able to agree on a trade for Andrew McCutchen after they failed to agree on a deal in July?

MLB: All Star Game David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Since the last update on the rumored talks about Andrew McCutchen between the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates, there has been plenty of chatter, but nothing has come of it yet.

To keep everyone up to date, we decided we’d collect the latest chatter out there as we wait to see if the Nationals’ rumored desire to get a deal done sooner rather than later will lead to an actual trade.

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reported earlier this afternoon, following reports from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that said the two teams were once again talking about a potential deal, that the Nationals and Pirates had, “ramped up discussions about a trade... according to sources who have spoken with both teams.”:

“The Nationals, according to one exec, would like to make this deal today, because the ripple effect of trading for McCutchen would likely be a move to non-tender shortstop Danny Espinosa before tomorrow's tender date. The Nationals have been looking for a center fielder. So if they can trade for McCutchen, he would play center, which would bounce Trea Turner to short and leave no spot for Espinosa.

The Pirates are looking for controllable starting pitching. So names like Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez would fit that shopping list.”

Espinosa, 29, and coming off a .209/.306/.378, 15 double, 24 HR, 1.7 fWAR campaign in 2016, is arbitration-eligible and projected (by MLBTraderumors.com) to get a raise to around $5.3M in 2017, after he and the Nationals avoided arbitration by agreeing on a 1-year/$2.875M contract last winter.

Rosenthal reported this morning that the Pirates were once again “targeting” 19-year-old Nats’ outfield prospect Victor Robles this winter as they did when the teams talked about a potential McCutchen deal this winter.

MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reported this afternoon that he too had heard from “sources familiar with the discussions” who said the two players that have come up in talks are Reynaldo Lopez and Victor Robles with one source adding that, “the Pirates might not agree to the trade unless a third player [is] added to the mix.”

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Biertempfel wrote on Twitter that he too heard from a source who confirmed, “what [Jayson Stark] reported,” that the Pirates and Nats, “[were] exploring [a] McCutchen trade,” and the Nationals, “... prefer it [gets] done sooner than later.”

Earlier this morning, Biertempfel quoted Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington in an article explaining Pittsburgh’s thinking in dealing some players with soon-to-expire deals, noting that it’s not just McCutchen they’ll considering trading:

“Our goal is to continue to keep this organization in position to play playoff baseball as consistently and frequently as we can. In order to do that, we will continue to make challenging and potentially unpopular decisions,” Huntington told the Tribune-Review.

“As we do with every player that is on an expiring contract, or that is on a near expiring contract, we'll listen.”

As of this moment, however, (4:50 PM EST) no trade has been reported...

For some non-McCutchen news:

While the Nationals are reportedly continuing to pursue an outfield bat, they are apparently still in the market for a closer.

Jon Heyman reported on Twitter this afternoon that the Nationals believe Aroldis Chapman “is too rich for their taste,” so they will instead “aim for [Mark] Melancon.”

Heyman added that the Nationals, “loved [Melancon] in [the] clubhouse,” and on the mound in 2016, after acquiring the veteran reliever from the Pirates last July.

Melancon became a free agent once the season ended, but General Manager Mike Rizzo said after the trade that brought the right-hander to D.C. that they would consider bringing Melancon back though he assumed the veteran reliever would test the free agent market.