GM: Making McCutchen a Pirate for life requires ‘financial common ground’

Posted: 28/02/2017 in MLB, Sports
Tags: , , , , ,

Andrew McCutchen has certainly taken some shots this winter.

The Pittsburgh Pirates cornerstone populated major trade rumors during the bulk of the offseason, so much so that he admitted to spending time on Google trying to follow where he might be dealt. A trade never turned into a reality, but McCutchen was still greeted with some unsettling news when he arrived to camp: the lifelong center fielder would be moved to right field to open the 2017 season.

Despite it all, McCutchen has remained positive and continues to express his allegiance to the franchise. He has two more years remaining on his deal and says he hopes to be a Pirate for life, though general manager Neal Huntington admitted that making that dream a reality isn’t as simple as it sounds.

“The rest of his career and the rest of his contract are two very different perspectives,” Huntington told Jayson Stark of ESPN. “Andrew has been very public about the fact that he’d love to be a Pirate for the rest of his life. We’ve said that we would love him to be a Pirate for the rest of his life. The challenge is, there’s that little thing called financial common ground.”

McCutchen is owed $14 million in 2017 and the Pirates hold a $14.75-million team option the following year that they’re almost assured to exercise.

Not traditionally known for having a high payroll, the Pirates have a big decision to make about McCutchen. He will be 32 when he hits free agency, and despite finishing in the top five in NL MVP voting from 2012-15, he is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. Should McCutchen bounce back, the Pirates may not be able to afford him; should he continue to regress, the club may want to go in a different direction.

It appeared that the Pirates’ front office tried to get a jump on trading McCutchen this winter in an attempt to get a better return given the remaining term on his contract. Huntington has plenty of time left to strike a deal, but pointed out that while the Pirates have traded away some of their big-name impending free agents in the past, they don’t always do so – and may not with McCutchen.

“Occasionally, we’ve traded a player like (Neil) Walker or (Mark) Melancon,” Huntington said. “So that’s become the narrative, that we’re always going to trade those players before their contract expires. But that’s just not the case.”

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