In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that while there’s a pretty good chance of an Andrew McCutchen trade this summer, the Pirates aren’t by any means planning a full tear-down of the roster. As such, Rosenthal notes that right-hander Gerrit Cole isn’t likely to be traded, considering he’s controllable for two more years beyond the current campaign. Trading McCutchen, whose bat has come to life over the past few weeks, wouldn’t be done as a means of waving a white flag on the 2017 campaign. Rather, the team could look to replace him in the lineup with a more affordable and/or controllable trade acquisition, as the Bucs did last year when replacing Melancon and Francisco Liriano with Felipe Rivero and Ivan Nova. McCutchen has a club option for the 2018 season that is valued at $14.5MM, and he’ll be a free agent thereafter.
A couple more highlights…
- The Padres are seeking a “Will Smith” type of return for lefty setup man Brad Hand, one rival executive tell Rosenthal. The Brewers traded Smith to the Giants last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford, who at the time was 14 months removed from being a first-round pick, and catcher Andrew Susac — a former top prospect with MLB experience already under his belt. The Padres, of course, needn’t look to mirror that exact structure, but it seems fair to believe that GM A.J. Preller and his staff are hopeful of acquiring one near-MLB-ready asset and another highly touted young prospect in any deal for Hand, who is controllable through 2019. A pair of recent rough outings have made Hand’s numbers look a bit more mortal, but he’s still sporting a strong 2.84 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate through 38 innings.
- Rosenthal also writes that fans shouldn’t expect to see the Cubs trade any of their young MLB-level hitters this summer. He suggests that Kyle Schwarber, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora and even the less-experienced Ian Happ are all unlikely to be moved, though Chicago certainly has a number of upper-level prospects that would entice rival teams to part with talent that could help turn around the season for the reigning World Series champions. Rosenthal also spoke with right-hander Jake Arrieta at length in an interesting interview about his struggles this season. While the former Cy Young winner conceded that his workload in 2015-16 may be having more of an effect on him than he’d like to admit. As Rosenthal notes, virtually every member of the Cubs’ rotation that pitched into the World Series has had some level of struggle this season, and the same is largely true of the Indians.