With the Pittsburgh Pirates facing an uncertain future after a disappointing 2016 season, the likelihood that Andrew McCutchen will be traded seems to be increasing.

Continue for updates.

Pirates Exploring McCutchen Deal

Saturday, Dec. 3

A member of the Pirates organization said the team “doesn’t feel compelled to move McCutchen if the price isn’t right,” per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

On Nov. 30, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted that McCutchen’s likelihood of playing in Pittsburgh next season is “dwindling.” Passan also reported the Pirates have been the aggressors in the McCutchen trade talks.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported on Nov. 30 that the Texas Rangers are a potential option for McCutchen and that the Pirates are talking to other clubs as well.

Nationals Pushing Hard to Land McCutchen

Saturday, Dec. 3

The Washington Nationals remain in talks with the Pirates regarding McCutchen, per Rosenthal.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported Thursday the Pirates and Nationals “have ramped up” talks about McCutchen, noting the Nationals “would like to make this deal today” given the “ripple effect of trading for McCutchen would likely be a move to nontender shortstop Danny Espinosa before tomorrow’s tender date.”

Rosenthal also reported Thursday the Pirates are “targeting” minor league outfielder Victor Robles in talks. Rosenthal added the Nationals have several starting pitching prospects who are almost ready for the majors and that the Pirates would presumably want one of those pitchers in addition to Robles. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Stephen J. Nesbitt reported Friday morning the Pirates were “breaking down video of Nats prospects.”

On Wednesday, Rosenthal reported the Pirates were still exploring potential deals involving McCutchen and that the Nationals were among the clubs showing interest.

The Nationals could be an easy fit as a trade partner with the Pirates. Rosenthal reported earlier this month the two teams discussed a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline in July that would have sent McCutchen to Washington, but it fell apart because of the vast number of moving parts. 

Those previous discussions at least gave the Pirates a reason to study Washington’s farm system.

McCutchen Coming Off Down Year in 2016

McCutchen is a strong buy-low trade candidate this offseason. He is coming off the worst year of his career, with a .256/.336/.430 slash line and the lowest FanGraphs WAR (0.7) among all center fielders who qualified for the batting title.

Now that he’s 30 years old and likely not a viable option in center anymore after putting up an MLB-worst minus-28 defensive runs saved in 2016, his $14 million salary is an albatross for the small-market Pirates.

McCutchen has been a fantastic ambassador for the Pirates and Major League Baseball since he debuted in 2009, but the team has to focus on its long-term outlook.

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