Speaking with Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other reporters on Saturday, the Pirates’ Neal Huntington didn’t sound like a general manager who expects center fielder Andrew McCutchen to remain in the fold for the long haul. Although Huntington said the Pirates “would love” for the 31-year-old McCutchen to be a careerlong member of the organization, he noted that keeping the five-time All-Star and trying to win championships “are contradictory goals” at times for the small-market club.
McCutchen is set to make $14.5MM in 2018, his last year of team control, and Huntington suggested that a contract extension isn’t on the way. The Bucs’ “belief is that the fanbase would rather cheer for a championship team than one really popular player,” according to Huntington, who continued, “If you look around the game and you look at second extensions for most clubs who either, it was the face of their franchise or their best player at the current time, history is not kind to those extensions.”
With the Winter Meetings set to begin, we’re approaching a year since the Pirates nearly traded McCutchen to the Nationals at the 2016 festivities. McCutchen ultimately stayed with the Pirates, of course, and enjoyed a bounce-back year at the plate. Since last season ended, the Giants have shown reported interest in acquiring McCutchen, who has been a member of the Pittsburgh organization since it selected him 11th overall in the 2005 draft.
More from Pittsburgh:
- While Huntington said that getting infielder Jung Ho Kang back in 2018 “would be huge,” the Pirates don’t expect it to happen (via Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Kang still hasn’t secured a work visa to return to the United States since he received his third drunk driving conviction in his native South Korea last offseason, thus forcing him to sit out the 2017 campaign. During his most recent game action, Kang struggled so mightily as a member of Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominic Winter League that the club released him last month. Speculatively, Kang’s status could affect the Bucs’ offseason plans, though in-house options David Freese, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Sean Rodriguez bring plenty of experience at one or both of his positions (third base, shortstop).
- Closer Felipe Rivero is coming off his first full year in Pittsburgh, during which he was among the premier relievers in the game. Now entering his first of four arbitration-eligible years, Rivero is already under Bucs control for the foreseeable future, but he’s open to signing an extension with the club (per Elizabeth Bloom of the Post-Gazette). “I wanna stay here for a little bit,” Rivero said. “It’s a good city to stay. Clean, very good people. So that’s the main reason. You know, I feel comfortable being here, so I want to be here a couple of years.” The 26-year-old Rivero’s agent will meet with the Pirates on Monday, Bloom reports. Interestingly, Rivero revealed that it was his sister’s advice to change representation earlier this offseason. Rivero’s now a Magnus Sports client, and he had been in touch with the agency for roughly a year before its hiring.