Following a disappointing 2016 season that saw them finish five games under .500, the Pittsburgh Pirates are at somewhat of a crossroads.
What do they do with the veterans that helped them earn a playoff spot in each of the three seasons prior to last year? Well, if you ask general manager Neal Huntington, trade discussions will be part of the dynamic. When specifically asked about former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates’ decision maker had this to say.
“We’ve been fairly open,” Huntington said, via ESPN. “When a player gets toward the end of his contract or even two years away from an expiring contact, we have to be open to listen. We’ve lost a lot of really good players to free agency, and as a small market, that makes it very hard to survive.”
It seems to be more about financials than anything else. The outfielder can become a free agent after next season should the Pirates decline his option for the 2018 campaign.
McCutchen, 30, is set to earn $14.2 million on the final year of his deal and is coming off a disappointing 2016 season. He hit just .256 with 24 homers and 79 RBI while boasting a career-low .336 on-base percentage.
Despite this, there would definitely be some strong interest in him on the trade block. Though, would that allow Pittsburgh to receive a large enough haul to trade him? This is what remains to be seen. At the very least, we now know the Pirates are open to discussions.