The Giants and Pirates are engaged in “serious talks” regarding outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). At the same time, San Francisco is said to have “gotten more serious” in discussions with free agent Lorenzo Cain, in the words of Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), though he also cautions the sides aren’t close to an agreement.
It has long seemed possible that the Giants could end up landing either of these two veteran players. Certainly, the connections aren’t new. That reports have emerged on both in near proximity could be interpreted in various ways.
Regarding McCutchen, the Pirates and Giants have reportedly discussed him in the past, though obviously nothing has come together to this point. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area looked at the connection today as well, including the fact that the San Francisco front office has hoped the Gerrit Cole trade might free up chatter on McCutchen, who is owed $14.5MM in his final season of contract control. Per Pavlovic, the Bucs’ demands to this point have been too rich for the Giants.
It’s possible to view the offseason developments to date from both organizations as a lead-up to a deal involving McCutchen. The Giants, who’d rather not part with draft picks as compensation for signing a qualifying-offer-bound free agent, have already traded for Evan Longoria, so there’s little question they are pushing to return to contention in 2018. And the Pirates’ recent trade of Cole clearly indicates the organization is willing to move on from highly-paid stars. McCutchen has long seemed a more obvious trade piece than was Cole.
At the same time, it’s too soon to rule out Cain. Both players could certainly fit on the same roster; at present, only Hunter Pence — himself a question mark after a shaky 2017 season — is firmly in place in the outfield. (Our sister site, Roster Resource, currently places Steven Duggar and Jarrett Parker atop the Giants depth chart in center and left.) Of course, doing so would mean ponying up significant cash as well as prospect assets. Even if the Giants were able to secure a nice price for Cain, they’d almost surely end up flying past the luxury line and he’d unquestionably require draft compensation. Getting Cutch, too, will require only a one-year commitment but will mean parting with at least some young assets.