Andrew McCutchen might be a little TOO available


Remember when I brought up how Andrew McCutchen “may be available” nine days ago? A real crowdpleaser, that story was. A commenter named ChuckL gave the post this glowing review:

“this is what happens when you have space to fill and nothing to write about”

Good times!

Today the McCutchen rumor mill started spinning out of control. He’s available. Very much so.

There are two schools of thought on how much it would take for a team like, say, the Giants to acquire a moderately-priced outfielder who was a perennial MVP candidate through 2015.

Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles fame thinks the Pirates wouldn’t be happy with an offer the Giants would be comfortable making.

However, we’re at the bucket of cold water, the slimy reality at the end of every offseason post. The Giants don’t have the prospects, not like the other teams. It would take Panik (who looks like a risky sell-low player to other teams, remember) and several prospects. And that’s before you get to the part where the Pirates might still prefer what another team is offering. This isn’t going to be a Kyle Crick-and-see-what-sticks kind of trade package.

John Perrotto of Fanrag Sports, who covered the Pirates beat for years, listed the Giants as one of “three possible trade destinations for McCutchen” and made it seem like Pittsburgh wouldn’t be quite so greedy:

While the Pirates would ideally like to land a controllable starting pitcher with upside such as Thompson, they could also use bullpen depth and someone who could eventually become the closer. Thus, an offer centered around right-handers Derek Law and Kyle Crick would draw some attention.

Law 26, had a 2.13 ERA in 61 games as a rookie this year and was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Crick’s stock dropped after he went 4-11 with a 5.04 ERA in 23 starts while spending a third straight season at Double-A Richmond, but he is still just 23 with stuff that could play well out of the bullpen.

The Pirates also lack power-hitting prospects, which would make Chris Shaw appealing. In his first full professional season, the 23-year-old first-round draft pick from Boston College in 2015 hit a combined .267 with 21 home runs and an .819 OPS with high Class-A San Jose and Richmond.

It’d be a little painful to part with Law, considering he was probably the most reliable reliever in a bullpen that wasn’t exactly all that reliable in 2016 (along with his agreeable, rally hat wearin’ personality). But acquiring McCutchen without having to give up Joe Panik, Christian Arroyo and/or Tyler Beede seems like it would be worth considering. One good reliever with elbow concerns, one minor league reliever who can’t throw strikes, and a minor league power hitter at a position where the Giants have a logjam? Sign Bobby Evans up! And if the Pirates would be happy with a package including Hunter Strickland instead of Law, all the better!

Except …

This cannot be ignored.

If the Pirates thought McCutchen’s regression last season was just a blip, why would they make themselves look this desperate before the Winter Meetings even start? Wouldn’t they be smarter to let McCutchen string together a few good months and trade him in July instead of selling low now? It smells like Pittsburgh is cutting bait here. So the Giants probably shouldn’t nibble.

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