The Phillies may soon see perennial All-Star and 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen 19 times a year if recent trade rumors are to be believed.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that trade talks between the Pirates and Nationals about McCutchen are “ramping up.” One Nationals executive said they would like to make the trade Thursday so they don’t have to tender shortstop Danny Espinosa before Friday’s deadline. Pittsburgh is seeking multiple “top prospects” in return according to Stark.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports said, according to his sources, the Pirates are the “aggressors” in a potential McCutchen trade. Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today notes that the Pirates need to shore up their rotation behind their ace, Gerrit Cole. Ortiz says “McCutchen could fetch an established starter, prospects or a combination of both.” It appears Pittsburgh is trying to cash in on McCutchen in order to fill a position of weakness on their roster.
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McCutchen is coming off a down year as it was his first season without an All-Star appearance since 2010. He hit 24 home runs and 79 RBI as he posted a .256/.336/.430 line. While his offense was okay as he produced 2.2 offensive wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference, he was a liability on defense as he posted a -2.6 dWAR. Overall, he was worth -0.7 rWAR in 2016.
The Nationals would have quite the outfield if they did acquire McCutchen. Trea Turner would likely move to shortstop so McCutchen could play center. Bryce Harper will man right field and former Phillie Jayson Werth will be in left. Overall, the Nationals would have three All-Stars in their outfield along with two MVP winners, forming a fearsome trio.
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On Pittsburgh’s end, they would likely move left fielder Starling Marte to center if they do trade McCutchen. Gregory Polanco and one of Josh Bell or Austin Meadows would man the corner outfield spots.
McCutchen has dominated the Phillies throughout his career. In 52 games against them, he has a .911 OPS along with ten home runs. His current contract only lasts through 2017 with a club option for 2018, so hopefully he won’t terror Philadelphia for too long.
The 30-year old outfielder hasn’t had as much success in Citizens Bank Park with a .255/.310/.500 line.
However, seven of his ten career home runs against the Phils have come at CBP.
Washington is a favorite for the National League East title in 2017, and the potential addition of McCutchen would only boost their odds. If the Phillies have any chance to compete for the playoffs in the next year, McCutchen would provide Washington with another advantage over the Phils.
While rumors and news from anonymous sources can only be taken so far, the fact that multiple insiders are reporting a possible McCutchen trade means it’s likely in the works. McCutchen has performed well against Philadelphia in his career, and now they may have to face him 19 times a year.