Since the end of last season, the number one topic surrounding the Pirates organization has been will Andrew McCutchen be traded.
The much talked about trade discussions between the Pirates and Washington didn’t result in McCutchen being dealt. However, most people still feel it’s only a matter of time until that happens.
If Neal Huntington and Bob Nutting decide to deal the face of the franchise, I think it’ll be a mistake.
I realize that #22 is the hottest hitter in the National League and has definitely improved his trade value compared to what it was at the end of May. Despite the possible return that the organization might get, its in their best interest to resist the urge of dealing McCutchen.
Not only should the Pirates not deal McCutchen, they should attempt to extend his contract by a couple of seasons. That’s right, do something that would shock your loyal fan base and the baseball community and show Cutch the money.
Offer McCutchen a 3-year extension for between $60 and $70 million.
This wouldn’t be a publicity stunt, it would be a commitment by the Pirates to keeping their best player instead of dumping him like is the usual outcome when a player gets to McCutchen’s stature and contract status.
After struggling last year and for the first two months of this season, McCutchen has rebounded and once again looks like one of the best players in the National League. Since May 26th, McCutchen is leading the league in batting average (.407), on-base percentage (.503) and slugging percentage (.740).
Despite the talk of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows being the organizations outfield of the future, McCutchen continues to produce and continues to be the best player in that group.
Everyone knows Marte’s current situation and let’s see what he’s able to do when he returns. Polanco is a player that hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. Meadows is the top offensive player in the Pirates farm system but has been slowed this year by injuries and hasn’t done anything this year to make the Pirates brass believe he’ll be ready at the start of the 2018 season.
Considering that and assuming the Pirates internally believe they’ll be a playoff contender next season, how can you trade your best player?
The answer is they shouldn’t. That doesn’t mean they won’t do the predictable thing and give the company answer that “although it was a hard decision, it was something that we believed was in the best interest of the organization.”
How about doing something completely crazy and build around a core of McCutchen, Marte, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon and Felipe Rivero. Then this off-season use Meadows or Polanco and Gerrit Cole as trade bait to build up the team’s rotation and bullpen.
Ever since making his MLB debut on June 4, 2009, McCutchen has been the face of the Pirates organization and it says here that it should stay that way for another three or four seasons.