According to a report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Pittsburgh Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen could be on the move in the near future after the worst season of his career. The Pirates have a limited payroll, and McCutchen would take up $14 million in 2017 and $14.5 million in 2018. Trading him would not only bring a decent haul back in return, but the Pirates could also fill other holes on the roster with the payroll space created.
Last season, McCutchen only hit .256 with a .336 OBP, .430 slugging percentage, and .766 OPS, all of which were career lows. He still hit 24 home runs and drove in 79 runs, but he struck out a career-high 143 times and only walked on 69 occasions.
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) November 30, 2016
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just Andrew’s offense that was lacking for the Pirates, as he finished last in MLB with negative-28 defensive runs saved. The Pirates took partial responsibility for the poor numbers as they said they thought they played McCutchen too shallow in 2016. Still, the next worst outfielder was the Detroit Tigers’ J.D. Martinez with a negative-22.
McCutchen doesn’t believe that he’s lost a step, though.
“I don’t see myself needing to move,” McCutchen told MLB.com at the end of last season. “I don’t feel like I’m slowing down and hurting my team because of where I play. Playing center field is one thing, but being a leader out there is another. That’s something we need.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 30, 2016
Despite having a horrible 2016 season, Andrew McCutchen should still receive plenty of attention on the trade market. After all, from 2012-15, McCutchen never hit lower than .292 nor had an OBP lower than .400 as he was one of the best players in MLB both offensively and defensively. There will be plenty of teams that believe he will bounce back.
One of those teams nearly pulled off a trade for McCutchen at the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline. The Washington Nationals reportedly were deep in talks with the Pirates about acquiring the center fielder along with closer Mark Melancon. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on a deal involving McCutchen, as the Pirates wanted more than the Nationals’ top outfield prospect, Victor Robles, according to Rosenthal.
According to Rosenthal’s latest report, Washington is still interested in acquiring the former National League MVP. Adding McCutchen would allow the team to move Trea Turner back to his natural position of shortstop and would give the Nationals one of the deepest lineups in the National League.
Another team that Rosenthal points to in his piece is the Texas Rangers. The Rangers moved career shortstop Ian Desmond to center field last season, and the results were remarkable. Desmond looked as if he’d played the position all his life and had one of the best seasons of his career, but he only signed a one-year deal with the team, which leaves a hole in center field for the Rangers.
— SportsDayDFW (@SportsDayDFW) November 30, 2016
FOX Sports‘ Chris Bahr listed six other teams that would make sense for McCutchen. They are the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Of those six teams, the Cardinals, Yankees, and Giants would seem to make the most sense. The Cardinals had issues all over the outfield last season and will lose Matt Holliday via free agency. The only question would be whether the Pirates would be willing to deal him to a division rival. The Giants and Yankees could both use McCutchen in corner outfield spots with established starters in the rest of their outfield.
If Andrew McCutchen can return to form in 2017, some team could be getting one heck of a bargain.
[Featured Image by Justin Berl/Getty Images]