Keith Law of ESPN hears that the Pittsburgh Pirates don’t consider Andrew McCutchen untouchable, and would listen to offers for the center fielder. McCutchen just finished his second full season in the majors, hitting for a .259/.364/.456 line with 23 homers in 572 at-bats. He’s currently the only impact player on the Pirates’ roster, and is easily their best offensive performer.
This shouldn’t really be a surprise. The Pirates should listen to offers on any player, whether that’s their best player in the majors, their best prospect in the minors, or any player who is rumored to be on the trade block in a given year. There’s a big gap between “willing to listen on a player” and “actively shopping a player”, so I wouldn’t take this as a sign that McCutchen will be dealt anytime soon.
Back in July I looked at McCutchen’s trade value and saw that it would essentially be impossible to trade him, since the return would be bigger than any team could afford. The Pirates could get four top 50 prospects in return for McCutchen, and they still wouldn’t see the proper value. Putting it another way, they could get two top 10 hitting prospects, and they’d still need a top 26-50 hitting prospect to complete the deal. McCutchen is a star player at a position that is hard to fill, making a low salary for the next four years. All of that combined makes it extremely hard to match his value.
In the article above, Law is quoted as saying that if McCutchen is looking for a Justin Upton type deal (6 years/$51.25 M) he would give it to him, rather than letting McCutchen go play for someone else in 2012. That would be my preference as well. Six years and $51.25 M is a huge value for McCutchen, especially if he improves on his already strong numbers. It buys out two free agent years in the process, which ideally is two more years that Cutch is on the same team with guys like Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
It makes sense for the Pirates to entertain offers, because you never know how much teams would be willing to give. I’m sure we could all think of offers we wouldn’t turn down for McCutchen. I would be surprised if any of those offers were actually made, since I don’t think there’s a team out there who could afford to deal for McCutchen.