MLB trade rumors have the Pittsburgh Pirates shopping Andrew McCutchen in an effort to improve the starting rotation. This isn’t breaking news, as the Pirates have been trying to trade McCuthen since the MLB offseason began, but what is noteworthy has become how feverishly the front office in Pittsburgh is trying to complete a deal. A report by MLB analyst Buster Olney also states that the Pirates have been working hard to acquire All-Star starting pitcher Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox.
It’s very clear that the Pittsburgh Pirates won’t be trading Andrew McCutchen to the Chicago White Sox for Jose Quintana, as the teams simply don’t match up in that regard. The White Sox are trying to cut payroll in order to improve in the long-term, meaning Quintana would likely only get dealt for another good group of prospects. The White Sox already dealt Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox and Adam Eaton to the Washinton Nationals, showing that the “fire sale” is truly on in Chicago. That raises the odds that Quintana is going get traded next.
There haven’t been any MLB trade rumors about a three-team trade involving the Pirates and White Sox, but it does make sense on paper. Several teams would like to acquire McCutchen, ranging from the Washington Nationals to the New York Mets, suggesting that a scenario does exist to make this a three-team blockbuster trade. The Mets want McCutchen, the Pirates want Quintana, and the White Sox want talented prospects. It seems to make a lot of sense that the trio of teams could sit down and hash out a deal that would please all sides of the equation.
A scenario also exists in these MLB trade rumors where the Pirates find a way to acquire Jose Quintana but still hold on to Andrew McCutchen. The Pittsburgh Pirates payroll would have to climb a bit further to acquire Quintana, especially after the team just signed free agent starting pitcher Ivan Nova. Nova was given a three-year, $26 million deal that might seem like a bargain in the current market. Despite the addition of another starting pitcher who can eat up innings, MLB analysts continue to report that Pittsburgh needs to improve its starting rotation behind Gerrit Cole.
McCutchen is still the highest paid player on the Pirates roster, earning $14 million for the 2017 MLB season. He also made the most for the team in 2016, when the team payroll went past $100 million for just the second time in franchise history. It appears that the front office wants to cut into that bottom line a bit, forecasted by the trade of closer Mark Melancon midway through last season. Without Melancon, Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Niese, or Mike Morse on the payroll any longer, it is conceivable that the team could afford to keep McCutchen and still pay Quintana’s salary.
Quintana will make $7 million during the 2017 MLB season and then $8.85 million in 2018. Quintana also has a $10.5 million club option for 2019 and an $11.5 million club option for 2020. That works out to a four-year, $37.85 million contract that is a bargain for an All-Star caliber starting pitcher. Having complete team control over the final two seasons of the deal would also put the Pirates in a very good position financially. If the team struggles, Quintana could then be a great trade chip to deal to another team in the future.
Adding a starting pitcher like Jose Quintana, who has pitched 951 career innings, with a 3.41 ERA and 1.242 WHIP over his career, immediately would make the Pittsburgh Pirates contenders in the National League again. Doing so, while keeping Andrew McCutchen on the roster could be even better, as long as the front office is comfortable with the payroll bump that likely comes with it. If the latest MLB trade rumors are any indication of what is to come, though, the Pirates would prefer to deal McCutchen and acquire Quintana before Spring Training 2017 rolls around.
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