PITTSBURGH – The past week has been crazy with all of the Andrew McCutchen rumors going around. It got to the point where it seemed guaranteed he would be traded, and now it’s back to the point where the Pirates are moving forward with plans to have McCutchen on the team in 2017. If you thought it was crazy just following along, imagine what it was like for McCutchen.

The Pirates’ outfielder spoke with the media today for the first time about the trade discussions, including our own Sean McCool. Prior to that interview, he had a discussion with Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington about the trade talks.

“I’ve talked to Neal about everything, after everything was over,” McCutchen said. “We had a conversation. I do understand he has a job. I don’t understand what he has to do. I can’t empathize with that, just like he can’t empathize with what I was going through. We had a conversation. We ended it on good terms, and we went from there.”

McCutchen said that he was following the entire process just like everyone else, following the news and rumors on Twitter, waiting to see what would happen. But it’s not like this was a surprise to him. He said he started seeing trade rumors and speculation on his flight home from St. Louis following the last series of the year.

“I wasn’t even home yet when that popped up,” McCutchen said about the news alerts he received on his flight. “It wasn’t a surprise at all that possibility of me being traded, my name being on the trade block. It wasn’t a surprise at all. I knew there was a possibility, I know where I am with my contract, I know where we stand as a team.”

McCutchen said it was a surprise that he didn’t get traded, based on everything he read that indicated a trade was likely. He did say that he was happy to be in Pittsburgh, and discussed many times about how he’s always wanted to play his entire career in the city. There haven’t been any extension talks between him and the Pirates, and he’s realistic about where the game is at to know that he might end up somewhere else at some point in his career.

“I do want to be here,” McCutchen said. “I’d be lying to you if I told you that none of this bothered me. Of course it did. I’m human. If someone cuts you off while you’re driving, you get bothered. We’re all human. So to have my name be [mentioned] as possibly being traded, of course it got to me. We all have these dreams. My dream is to be a Pirate my whole career. My dream is to win the World Series. We all have those dreams. When my name popped up, it did make me think those dreams could be altered.”

McCutchen discussed signing his extension in 2012, and the thought at the time that he would be in Pittsburgh his entire career. But when asked about the extension, and whether he expected to play it out in Pittsburgh, he cited the changes to the game about how that might not be realistic.

“If you would have asked me this in 2012, if I would be in this position, with my name being thrown out in trades, I would have been like ‘Are you crazy?’ How the game has changed, and how things have evolved over time, it’s not a surprise that it has come up. That’s just the way the game is right now.”

There hasn’t been any talk of an extension, which makes sense as the Pirates have two very talent, young outfielders who are locked up for the long-term in Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, and have Austin Meadows, one of the game’s top prospects, in Triple-A. But McCutchen said that he’s still open to an extension.

“I’m always open,” McCutchen said. “That’s never changed for me. I want to be a Pirate, I want to retire a Pirate. That hasn’t changed.”

One other concern about an extension would be McCutchen’s down year in 2016. He had his worst year of his career across the board, including the continuation of some trends where his speed and defense have declined over the last three or four years. The thought was that his 2016 season was due to being injured, but McCutchen said that wasn’t the case.

“I just didn’t have it,” McCutchen said. “It just wasn’t there. It had nothing to do with injuries. We all have little nagging injuries here and there, and I had those, but there wasn’t something that hindered me from performing the way that I wanted to. I didn’t produce the way that I wanted to. That’s plain and simple.”

McCutchen was optimistic that he could bounce back, mentioning that the 2011 season was a down year for him, and he rebounded after that. He was asked if he was “motivated” to bounce back after the down year, to show that he still has it.

“I don’t know if that’s quote the word to look for,” McCutchen said. “It’s something higher than motivated. I’m hungry. I’m only 30. If you look at people who had great careers, guys who have been in the Hall of Fame, not everyone always hits .330 their whole career, especially in this day in age. You’re going to have your off years, but it’s what you do, and how you come back from that. I’m looking forward to this season. I’m ready to go. I can’t wait to get my feet back there on the field and get ready, and show that I’m not washed up, I guess. I’m only 30 years old. It’s not like I’m 40.”

There have been concerns from Pirates fans that the trade talks could provide a distraction and impact his play next season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, based on McCutchen’s positive attitude in the interview today, and his simple reaction to whether the trade talks will have an impact.

“Nothing is going to affect me. I’m ready to go.”

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  1. I love Cutch’s refreshing honesty! I also hope he performs so well next year that the Pirates can’t possibly afford him for an extension.

    • It was brought up to McCutchen in the player’s q&a, and to Hurdle in the management q&a. Neither really gave a direct answer. Cutch said that most centerfielders who play long enough get moved to a corner outfield spot, and he knows that will happen at some point. He didn’t say when, and to me didn’t sound like he thinks it needs to be done now. Hurdle said it is going to be discussed with the players involved. I felt, reading between the lines that it is going to happen now.

  2. Amazed that nobody asked Andrew something like the following…

    Andrew, you are a smart player and don’t you agree that either Marte or Polanco would be a better option in centerfield for the Pirates?

    • The Colin Dunlap interview is pretty telling. Cutch doesn’t like hearing that he statistically the worst defensive OF by a mile. He claims that he’s as good as he’s always been defensively and the solution is better pitching. He’s doesn’t want to move and he’s trying to make the situation as difficult as possible for the coaching staff. While he says he can’t empathize w the FO he doesn’t have a problem criticizing them as being responsible for why the team has taken a step back where maybe he should be taking his own responsibility because that’s something he can empathize with.

  3. Why didn’t you ask about position change & if it was brought up in conversation with NH.
    Everyone talks about Cutch is to valuable to franchise to trade. BS!!! If he’s traded & Bucco’s win a playoff series 90% will be glad they traded him. St. Louis fan base survived & thrived after Puljus trade. They did because winning trumps loyalty to any player. With that said I hope he has a great 1/2 year or whole year & brings back a great return when he is traded. I bet Puljus helped improve St. Louis franchise value as much as Cutch did. Winning is what improves franchise value more then any player.

  4. There is meaning in having a Cutch “Pirate for life”. What about Cutch at 1b? Bell would bring good return from AL club. At least explore extension with this in mind. Excellent community value in keeping Cutch around as face of franchise.

    • Community value does not equal wins or dollars. Winning trumps everything when it comes to return on investment. Large market teams like yanks, sox or even the Cubs can afford to invest in a 30 something player’s brand… because they have the resources to build a team of young winners around a backup making $15+MM a year. The pirates cannot. It’s one or the other. Win with young talent… or lose with sentimentality.

      • Here’s a not so crazy scenario I have been thinking about: the pirates may have to deal cutch and josh bell at some point in the next 365 days. With Meadows coming and Bell’s fielding at 1B, where do you put bell? …and surely you will need to deal cutch after 2017 unless he gives them a ridiculous team extension deal or they decide to stick with him and offer a QO eventually…which will never happen. The only question is who is gonna be the 1B in their never ending search?

    • …at some point they need to stop moving outfielders to 1B. I don’t know about anyone else’s feeling in this, but the 1B conversions are getting old, and haven’t had the best of results yet. Jaso was ok, but he hits like a 4th OF, not a 2/3 of the time 1B.

    • Cutch is 5’10 and has never played infield at any level in his entire life. Please explain to me how that works as a first baseman

  5. I am not convinced he will be back, could see something with a NY team, Cutch for Matz and a prospect, a little risk on both sides? Grab a Yankee prospect? they stockpiled them and they are more of a headliner team, rather than a promise one.. Still wouldn’t count on him being here come Jan 1. Either way, I do think a bounce back year is coming

    • I don’t know about that Lee. Theres no reason to believe he won’t be a .350+/.450+ guy for the next 4,5,6 years. Now if you said he might be a DH at 33…I will jump on that bandwagon.

  6. I am really confounded by this quote. Why does Cutch seem so perplexed by what NH was trying to do? Or maybe I misunderstand.

    “We had a conversation. I do understand he has a job. I don’t understand what he was to do. I can’t empathize with that, just like he can’t empathize with what I was
    going through. We had a conversation. We ended it on good terms, and we went from there.”

    • What is confusing about it? He is not perplexed. He is just saying that there’s no way that he can feel empathy to a GM in his position as a player and vice versa.

      And, he is correct. No player can feel empathy until they are the GM. That is the meaning of empathy. And, if that GM has never been a player, then the same holds true.

      Dave Stewart could feel empathy (even tho he sucked, lol) since he was a former MLB player.

      • Kind of a clunky quote. But I see your point. He might need to be more worried that he’s not vlued more than Adam Eaton on the open market. That’s probably the worst part of this for him.

        • Ego’s are always big in stars. That is probably why they’re stars. 🙂

          But, to be honest I had no issue with the quote and didn’t find it clunky. All in the eyes of the reader/listener? 🙂

        • As much of a cutch realist I am- I still believe he is more valuable than adam eaton, if washington doesn’t well then….their loss

      • I think the undertone is that it probably wasn’t the happiest of conversations but they let each other know where they stood and can now at least move on. I think a lot of that quote is cutch doing his best to put a positive spin on it…sort of a “I’m not happy, but I said my peace type of thing.”

  7. Cutch is such a class act. He represents what every parent wants in an athlete, a great player who is also a true role model for your children to idolize. It will be a sad day when he no longer wears a Pirates uniform, no matter who he’s traded for.

    Replacing his on field production is one thing. Replacing the impact he has had on the Pirates organization and the community is a whole nuther matter.

    Here’s to him hoisting a WS MVP trophy wearing black and gold next October!

    • What he has done for the Pirates as an organization is often overlooked. In the years he finished 3rd, 1st, 3rd, and 5th in the NL MVP Vote, while leading the team to the first winning records in 20 years and to the Playoffs three straight years, the Value of the Pirates Franchise increased from $336 mil to $900 mil. In Value we have gone from 28th in MLB to around the middle of the pack.

      All of those Value numbers mean a lot especially when the TV Rights folks come to discuss a new Contract. The Pirates 10 year contract expires in just a few years. Trading your most recognizable player, the face of your franchise, is not how a franchise would want to enter these discussions.

      He put this franchise back on the map nationally, and his leadership to the club and his involvement within the community are being grossly overlooked.

      • Unfortunately we cannot afford to pay him for what he’s done. No one was going to the park to see a statue of Clemente, hear stories from Andy van slyk, or to cherish spanky homerum re runs in 2012-2015- we were going to see a winner. That’s why the team is valuable. A great way to honor Andrew’s contributions is to keep growing the business the only way possible- by restocking with young talent. His brand will always be popular here- but not as much if we pay him over $15MM a year and he ages before our eyes. The team will continue to grow as long as we WIN. even in large markets, they realize in a steroid free game the only way to do that is with players in their prime.

        • Steelers, Penguins, Pirates. I wonder why guys like Ben and Sid are still around even though they both were superstars and then had years where they fell on hard times also?

          • Very different sports/economics, mostly.

            SId’s around because he keeps taking fairly team-friendly contracts. He’s the best player in the world, but he’s never been the highest paid. And in a salary cap league, which also puts a cap on individual player salaries, his salary can only get so high anyway.

            Ben’s around because quarterback is the position which most drives the success of a football team, and having a good one is the difference between a losing season and contending for a Super Bowl. If you have one, you keep him. There is no equivalent to that in baseball, no batter how good the player, Just ask Mike Trout.

          • Apples and oranges imo – the differences are numerous. Salary cap and economics, non guaranteed contracts, development systems differ, and most of all- Ben and sid are still at the height of their game. QB can play until 40. Hockey players can play well into 30s as well.

          • What the F are u talking about – Crosby is the best player in the NHL and Ben has moved up the ladder of elite QBs every year. They stay because they like playing in Pittsburgh. cutch can do the same thing if he wants to and his Marxist union will let him

      • No, I think you grossly over rate his leadership.

        Does not hustle either on the base paths or in CF.

        A true leader would have forced the move to a corner 0F for the good of the team…

        If he continues his decline the next two years a good deal of that surplus value evaporates.

        • Jeter never told anyone to move him off of SS even though he should have…and he is generally known as an all time great leader. When you are the franchise, the front office needs to come to you. You are there to do a job. If management is unhappy with your performance, they need to tell you, and explain why they need you to move. To say Cutch is the one that should do it just isn’t reality.

          • By the lemmings – the goal should be to win the World Series – I thought Jeter was a selfish jerk for not doing what was needed to give his team the best chance to win…

            Feel the same about Cutch for clinging to centerfield.

            Great leader my ass.

          • and move him to where…….Cano was at 2nd, Arod at third. Tex at first…….please inform me where Jeter was going to go.

            • The point is they never moved him…before Cano came up, when ARod was hurt, or to DH, or LF, or RF….same with Bernie Williams. It was before the complete acceptance of metrics so that contributes but they knew he was deficient range-wise, but kept him there because he is the face of the franchise the last 20 years. It’s not an easy thing…moving an Icon. It’s a luxury they had because most years they were loaded on offense and pitching. The Pirates don’t have those luxuries.

              • before cano came up??? You do realize Cano came up in 2005 right? Jeter was 31. What sense would it have made to move Jeter to third, a position he never played…..midseason during an injury? Unless you are talking about 2013 and 2014 and Jeter was hurt at the same time as Arod. Freddy, your statement here just makes no logical sense. I’m sorry, but its way off base. You can use the decision to move Andruw Jones from CF or Tori hunter from CF…..at least those situations make logical sense.

                • There was always talk from a metrics point of view that Jeter should be moved. They are the Yankees, they could have pretty much configured their team anyway they wanted and chose to keep Jeter there. Also, they moved ARod because they had Jeter, even though it could be argued that ARod was a much better SS. That point became moot because ARod continued to roid it up and get less flexible, until he wasn’t even really that good at third. Regardless, 9,10, 11 years ago the Yankees were much better and defense wasn’t the main priority possibly. I completely get the “where would you put him?” argument, but if they wanted to move him they would have put Cano elsewhere…although Cano is solid in the field. Maybe they thought ARod and Cano are solid so Jeter’s great offense more than makes up for the defensive issues…then when you factor in Cano’s offense then the decision became easier. Or maybe they had an inflated opinion of Jeter’s defense like 99.99% of their fans.

                  • I get what you are saying, but the overall argument still makes no sense. You want to play musical chairs with an entire teams defense with the idea that maybe they could have slightly increased their shortstop defense somewhere along the way……. not even looking at the possibility that switching over players to new positions might make them worse. Your point as it pertains to cutch makes sense, but this example again…….is way off base from a logistical standpoint and again shows you that these are not video game players, they are real people.

            • I’m saying you’re focusing on a couple of cherry picked issues that make Cutch look bad, when in reality the whole package of Cutch the player, person, teammate is awesome!

              • eh…..no. I’m with Bruce here. The things that make you a good leader are BEING a leader. Besides being a good rolemodel and a good player, I see no relative leadership qualities that Cutch posesses. other than fessing up when he sucks, and taking responsibility for his play….. where is the “lead by example” JHay is a much better example of how to play the game than cutch is……..he gives much better postgame interviews as well……..have you seen cutch after the game? He doesnt want to be there speaking for his team. Have you ever heard of Cutch giving a pregame speech or putting together a “players only meeting” Have you seen Cutch turn a single into a double or a double into a triple on the bases? Have you seen him give up Center Field for another player whom is better equipped to play the position, have you seen him put down a bunt when he’s struggling? Please, someone give me some examples of Cutch showing he’s a good leader, because i’ve been hearing this garbage for years, and i’ve frankly never seen it.

  8. Cutch is a class act. Definitely not going to be disappointed he’s back next season, I just hope for his sake and ours that he bounces back a little bit.

  9. I’m glad we ended up keeping Andrew and if he’s crushing this year and we’re out of it I’d expect a historic type of acquisition by someone. That’s all if he sets new standards for his play which he’s working on.

    • I agree with you… However, if he’s crushing… I truly believe that the Pirates are in it next year. With as bad as the SP was this past year, if he was on… We slide in IMO in spite of it.

  10. I am curious as to his off-season workouts. I wonder if they’re geared towards power as compared to speed and flexibility. His lower half looks very stout now. I’m thinking less power squats and more Pilates at this stage in his career.

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