Sports from the Basement

The Pirates Should Trade Andrew McCutchen As Soon As They Can

Andrew McCutchen is clearly one of the best players in all of baseball. And he’s also the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s the leader of the team, and he’s been an MVP candidate for the past three or four years. But at the same time he’s coming off the worst season of his career.

With the Chicago Cubs dominating the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals looming and the Milwaukee Brewers accelerating their rebuild, the Pirates need to start making decisions. And the first one involves the future of their star player. Should he stay for a few more years? Should they trade him to re-stock the farm?

We’re sorry, Pirates fans. But McCutchen needs to get out of Pittsburgh as soon as possible.

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Look, we get it. Teams that try to contend simply don’t trade a star player in his prime. But the Pirates’ situation is pretty special. They already have the best outfield in baseball, and the departure of McCutchen could generate a space for top prospect Austin Meadows. It’s always risky to replace a proven star with a prospect, but Meadows has proven he’s ready to make an impact at the big-league level.

There’s also the “small market” situation which, unfortunately, is a factor for teams like the Pirates and a few more around the league. Pittsburgh doesn’t generate enough revenue to keep their star players around for the long haul, and this is likely to be McCutchen’s case. His resume speaks for itself, and he should easily receive offers well over the $100M mark.

Sure, Cutch’s coming off a down season. He posted career-low numbers in batting average (.256), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging percentage (.430). But he still finished with 24 home runs and driving in 79 runs. Furthermore, he posted a .287/.373/.513 slash line during September, which suggests he simply had a bad year and that he should bounce back in 2017.

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Several outlets are reporting McCutchen could be traded before Opening Day. And the Pirates should bite if they have a good offer on the table. Otherwise they’d risk losing him for nothing in free agency. And that’s a luxury the Pirates can’t have. It hurts to read this if you’re a Pittsburgh fan, but the sooner the team trades him, the better for all parties involved.

After all, it’s not like they’re going to contend with the Cubs for the NL Central title. Their target should be one of the two Wild Card spots. And a good return in a potential deal for McCutchen could bolster both the rotation and the farm, while maintaining most of the core players in place.

Simply put, it has to be done. The sooner, the better.

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