After missing out on ace Chris Sale, who went to the Red Sox in a blockbuster deal this afternoon, the Nationals are shifting their focus back to Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes that the Nationals hadn’t shut down talks with the Pirates as of this afternoon, and Byron Kerr of MASNsports.com tweets that the Nats and Bucs are set to have another meeting this afternoon.
At one point, it was reported that the Nationals felt they had the prospect capital to acquire both Sale and McCutchen, so the fact that they didn’t win the Sale sweepstakes technically gives them ample talent to pry McCutchen away from Pittsburgh. However, the Bucs reportedly asked for both Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles when talking with the Nationals, and that level of expenditure would be difficult to stomach, considering McCutchen is coming off his worst full season as a regular. He’s owed a reasonable $28MM over the next two seasons, but if last year was the beginning of a trend, then that figure may not be much of a bargain.
The Nats were said to have a real chance at landing Sale last night before the Red Sox swooped in, but as Janes reports, the Nationals never showed any willingness to part with Trea Turner, which ultimately proved to be the sticking point in negotiations. That’s consistent with everything that’s been reported when it comes to the Nationals’ trade efforts, as GM Mike Rizzo (understandably) seems to be steadfastly averse to trading his blossoming star.
That said, it’s been a frustrating Winter Meetings for the Nats so far, who have also lost out on Mark Melancon, as their now-former closer signed a four-year, $62MM deal with the Giants. Nonetheless, there are plenty of high-profile upgrades to pursue, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post points (on Twitter) out that if the Nats want to engage with the ChiSox on their other top lefty, Jose Quintana (and possibly closer David Robertson), a good deal of groundwork could be accelerated, as the Nats and White Sox are already quite familiar with each others’ organizations after the extensive Sale talks, though that observation seems to be more speculation than anything else. For the time being, it seems that the Nats’ focus is McCutchen, although the two sides have been in talks since last week and also talked this past summer but have seemingly never come close to making a swap.