The Pittsburgh Pirates dealt star pitcher Gerrit Cole, and insiders believe that may be a precursor to a bigger deal involving Andrew McCutchen.
Pittsburgh has not won a World Series since beating the Baltimore Orioles in 1979. It appeared the club was getting back toward that level in 2013, 2014 and 2015, reaching the playoffs in all three years, twice with 90+ win seasons. Now, it all appears to be crumbling.
Earlier this week, general manager Neal Huntington dealt Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros, and now Jerry Cransick is reporting that Pittsburgh is willing to trade outfielder Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen, who won the Most Valuable Player award back in 2013, should fetch a considerable haul, although he only has a year left on his deal.
After a slow start to the 2017 season, McCutchen bounced back to produce 28 home runs and 88 RBI with a .278 batting average and a .363 on-base percentage. While McCutchen is no longer a major threat to steal a bag, he can still run some, swiping 11.
Pittsburgh has to be thinking about moving toward the future after dealing Cole. The NL Central has the Chicago Cubs in the catbird seat both now and for the foreseeable years, making this decision easier. With McCutchen pricing himself out of Pittsburgh anyway, the Pirates should move aggressively and try to land two quality prospects, maybe with a third lower-level youngster thrown in the deal.
The Pirates should build around Starling Marte and Josh Bell, two sluggers who should be on the payroll for the rest of the decade and then some.