The baseball world waits. Will the Washington Nationals, or some other team, give the Pittsburgh Pirates what they want and get Andrew McCutchen?
After a day full of talk that a trade was imminent, things died down late Wednesday afternoon, though there are multiple reports that a deal still could happen.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi wrote early this morning that the Nationals remain in the lead among interested teams:
Meanwhile, there were reports last night, including one from Jon Heyman at Fanrag, that said the Nationals were still in the mix for Chicago White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale.
“There’s no question they are in,” Heyman wrote, noting that Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo, “has been willing to go the extra mile for players he wants,” though in this case, “[w]ord is, the Nats are balking at [including] Trea Turner,” in potential deals, which should come as no surprise.
Heyman asks rhetorically if the Nationals can actually make a trade for someone like Sale and not include Turner?
“They have two talented young pitchers on the cusp of the majors in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, a young catcher in Pedro Severino and an outfield prospect in Victor Robles,” Heyman notes.
“Not bad, but not sure that’s enough.”
He also mentions that the Nationals’ interest in McCutchen and writes that there is some overlap, with, “... some of those same players being bandied about.”
“And it’s hard to see how they could get both,” Heyman says.
Heyman mentions elsewhere in the article that the Nationals remain in the market for a closer, and from what he writes, it seems like things might play out the way they did last summer as Rizzo and Co. in the Nats’ front office tried to acquire one of the high-end closers that were available (Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller) but found the cost (in terms of prospects) prohibitive.
Chapman is a free agent now, so it will only cost the Nationals (a lot) money, and he has no draft pick tied to him since he was traded this season. But still...
“The Nats seem to feel Aroldis Chapman will be too much money,” Heyman writes, “... and [they] seem to be focusing on bringing back Mark Melancon, who they loved on the mound and in the clubhouse.”
The Nationals ended up sending left-handers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn to the Pirates to get Melancon last July. How much would it cost them to bring him back?
In addition to the trade chatter, the Nationals have roster decisions to make ahead of tonight’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
Reports yesterday said part of the Nats’ desire to complete a deal with the Pirates sooner than later was that they intended to non-tender Danny Espinosa if/when a trade for McCutchen was consummated.
“[I]f they can trade for McCutchen, he would play center, which would bounce Trea Turner to short and leave no spot for Espinosa,” ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark wrote.
Espinosa is coming off a .209/.306/.378, 15 double, 24 HR, 1.7 fWAR campaign and is projected to get a raise to around $5.3M in 2017, after he signed a 1-year/$2.875M contract with the Nationals last winter.
Outfielder Ben Revere is another non-tender candidate after a rough year in D.C. in which he struggled with injuries and never got right at the plate.
Revere finished the 2016 campaign with a .217/.260/.300 line in 103 games and 375 plate appearances, over which he worth -1.2 fWAR, down from .306/.342/.377 and 1.7 fWAR in 2015.
Revere and the Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed on a 1-year/$6.25M deal last winter, and he is projected to get a raise to around $6.3M.
It could be a busy day for the defending NL East champs...