The Blue Jays have “kicked around” Andrew McCutchen’s name as they attempt to address their outfield, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (all Twitter links). Pirates GM Neal Huntington recently said the team was likely to keep McCutchen after trade negotiations with the Nationals fell through. But, Crasnick writes, the Jays are one of several teams who are still interested in the Pirates’ star.
The Blue Jays have Kevin Pillar, an exceptional defender, in center field, so McCutchen would likely move to a corner if he were to be traded to Toronto. That might be best anyway, since McCutchen’s declining speed helped result in dreadful defensive numbers in center last season, leading to talk about him moving to a corner even if he stays in Pittsburgh. (His positioning might also have been a factor in his poor defensive stats.)
McCutchen posted a .256/.336/.430 line last season, with all three figures representing career lows. Still, the Pirates’ price to move him will be high — he’s still just 30 and has two years of relatively cheap control remaining, and his outstanding pre-2016 performances and strong hitting over the last two months last season inspire hope for his future. The discussions with the Nationals reportedly included top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito as well as another good prospect, Dane Dunning, both of whom later went to the White Sox in the Adam Eaton deal.
Since then, though, the Pirates have agreed to re-sign Ivan Nova, and been connected in trade talks to star White Sox lefty Jose Quintana. Their outlook now might be somewhat different than it was a month ago, as they now might be more focused on contending. Last week, Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman wrote that the Pirates wanted MLB-ready talent in return if they were to trade McCutchen.
The Jays, of course, recently lost Edwin Encarnacion to the Indians via free agency. It remains unclear which players they might use to lure the Pirates to trade McCutchen — their farm system, headed by shortstop Richard Urena, righty Sean Reid-Foley and outfielder Anthony Alford, is decent but not outstanding. The Jays acquired two of their other top prospects, catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Harold Ramirez, with Francisco Liriano in a summer trade with the Pirates seemingly designed to help the Bucs shed Liriano’s salary.