As the Pittsburgh Pirates are quite certain they don’t plan to contend this season, rumors around the possible trade of Andrew McCutchen continue to swirl. Two teams mentioned more and more in regards to the one-time MVP are the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.
In 2017, McCutchen bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2016, batting .279 while posting a .363 OBP and .486 slugging. He also hit 28 home runs in 570 at bats, his 2nd best career output and finest since 2012. He didn’t renew his All-Star game streak, which will probably end up at 5 (2011-2015, including one MVP), but if the Pirates saw the season as an opportunity for McCutchen to raise his trade value, it was successful.
The 31-year old outfielder has played at least 153 games in each of the last 3 seasons, and has avoided any major injuries throughout his career, adding a bit more to the probability of a team adding him to the fold. The issue some teams are facing when looking at McCutchen, including the Mets and Giants, is his salary.
McCutchen is entering the final season of his current deal and will make $14.5 million. Not too hefty a sum for someone who is almost guaranteed to produce 25 home runs with solid defense (although declining) with pretty good efficiency at the plate. However, with luxury tax being such a burden for some ball clubs, it makes McCutchen a questionable acquisition.
The Pirates don’t want to win now (which means don’t want to spend money) but don’t want to enter a potentially long rebuilding phase after a few competitive years by their standards. The Mets want to compete and improve without raising their salary spending. The Giants, despite last season, are in a position to win games, but are afraid of the luxury tax, trying to stay away from it as far as possible.
In short – the McCutchen trade is a possibility, but for the Mets or Giants to land him, it would take some creative thinking.