The Giants and Pirates have “remained in contact” regarding star outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link). McCutchen could represent an alternative to Giancarlo Stanton for the San Francisco organization, Morosi suggests.
This is the first time we’ve seen the 31-year-old McCutchen come up clearly in trade rumors this winter. He’s owed $14.5MM for the 2018 season and will reach free agency thereafter.
McCutchen is no longer the superstar he once was, but did just wrap up a productive 2017 campaign. In 650 plate appearances, he slashed .279/.363/.486 and hit 28 home runs.
Metrics are not enamored of McCutchen’s glovework in center, so he doesn’t seem like a direct replacement for Denard Span, who’s expected to move into a corner spot. But Cutch’s ability to handle some time up the middle certainly doesn’t hurt. He’s also a far less committing acquisition target than is Stanton.
It’s not immediately clear what it might take to get the Bucs to part with their franchise icon. Moving the salary would help the organization seek some other improvements, though losing McCutchen would also mean creating an immediate hole — even if the team is comfortable relying upon Austin Meadows and/or piecing together some platoon pieces. Given McCutchen’s standing with the fan base, there’s added motivation for the Pirates to hold out for a worthwhile return. And the organization will be cognizant of the possibility of instead dealing him at the trade deadline, if the ballclub does not compete, or making him a qualifying offer at the end of the coming season.