Here’s the latest from the Steel City…
- While J.A. Happ is enjoying a strong season with the Blue Jays, Pirates GM Neal Huntington (via Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) didn’t express too much regret over not re-signing the southpaw after his turnaround performance in Pittsburgh. “We wanted to re-sign J.A. We weren’t able to meet the financial asks, or chose not to. Toronto was aggressive and came and got him,” Huntington said. While noting that “hindsight always gives you the opportunity to wish you had done something differently,” Huntington also mentioned that Happ is still not even a full season through the first year of the three-year deal, so it could be too early to judge the signing.
- Huntington also told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam Berry) that the Pirates are actively scouring the waiver wire for possible additions, though he cited the inherent difficulties of landing players through the unpredictable August waivers process. Some of the salary saved in the Francisco Liriano trade could help the Bucs make claims on pricier players, Huntington said, whether it’s to actually obtain the players themselves or simply block them from going to rival teams.
- If the Pirates were willing to sell low on Liriano just to get his contract off the books, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonder if the club would consider the same with Andrew McCutchen this winter. The former NL MVP is owed $14MM in 2017, and the Bucs have a $14.5MM club option ($1MM buyout) on his services for 2018. McCutchen’s contract has long considered one of the game’s most team-friendly deals given how the outfielder emerged as a superstar after signing the extension, so while it seems wild to now consider it a financial burden, McCutchen is suffering through the worst season of his career, hitting just .241/.314/.404 with 15 homers through 443 PA. Despite these struggles, you would figure that the modest contractual commitment, McCutchen’s relative youth (he’s 29) and excellent track record would still figure to make him a sought-after trade chip if Pittsburgh indeed made him available. Highly-touted prospect Austin Meadows is also waiting in the wings for the Pirates as a possible outfield replacement.