Williams: An Updated Primer on a Potential Andrew McCutchen Trade

The MLB trade deadline is a little over two weeks away, and the first big trade of the season took place yesterday, with the Cubs acquiring left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana from the White Sox. That officially launches trade rumor season, in which we’ll probably be hearing things on a daily basis about people the Pirates could acquire or trade away.

We still don’t know whether the Pirates will buy or sell, although I have a feeling their approach will be similar to last year, where they sell guys with expiring contracts, while also adding guys who might be able to help them beyond 2017, even if it means adding someone on an expiring contract who they could try to re-sign — much like they did with Ivan Nova. I would also point out that I don’t think every single person with an expiring contract will be sold. There could be some players who the Pirates want to retain, similar to Sean Rodriguez, who they kept through the trade deadline, and tried to re-sign over the offseason.

One thing that I know for sure is that we’re going to hear a lot of talk about Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates might not necessarily trade him, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he gets dealt. They shopped him over the offseason, and almost traded him to the Nationals, before Washington ended up trading for Adam Eaton. While they’re still technically in striking range of the division, the reality is that they don’t have a strong chance this year of contending. So it’s not out of the question that they could deal McCutchen.

As I did during the offseason, I wanted to throw together a primer on a potential Andrew McCutchen trade, giving some perspective on what is likely to be a busy two weeks of rumors and a possible trade, all while providing an update with what we know since the offseason.

THE EMOTIONAL SIDE

Any trade has two sides: business and emotional. Some trades make it easy to remove emotions, such as when you’re trading away a lower level prospect for an MLB player. In other cases, such as a potential McCutchen trade, the emotional side will be strong.

McCutchen is the most productive player to play in Pittsburgh since Barry Bonds, and arguably more popular. He’s a guy with mass appeal — a star recognized by fans all across baseball, and not just in Pittsburgh. When he’s on his game, he’s exciting to watch on the field, and he can be entertaining and is viewed as a good guy off the field. McCutchen is the type of guy you want to root for, and doesn’t give a reason to root against him.

The business side says that McCutchen is close to free agency, has shown some inconsistent performances the last two years, and probably won’t age well if the Pirates decided to extend him. The emotional side doesn’t care about any of that, and would love to dream of a scenario where McCutchen is extended and somehow maintains his current star status, with no bumps in the road.

I said a lot of this during the offseason, but we’ve seen a new development this season. It’s easy to ignore the emotional side when McCutchen is struggling. We saw him struggle early in the year, and at that point, there probably wouldn’t have been emotions about trading him. Now that he’s performing like Andrew McCutchen again, the emotional side is strong, since it’s easy to envision this production continuing, and easy to forget how possible it can be for him to struggle again like early in the season.

The good news for the Pirates is that the emotional side exists for MLB General Managers. They aren’t immune to dreaming about a player fulfilling his upside, and removing themselves from the reality that the player could easily struggle. They still factor in the business side, but MLB teams aren’t exclusively on one side. For that reason, McCutchen’s recent surge could give him value, beyond just what the business side says.

THE BUSINESS SIDE

The emotional side is optimistic and rose-colored. It only remembers the best of times, and envisions those times continuing going forward. The business side is cold. It strips all of that emotion, and only looks at the facts. It avoids treating the player as a human, but instead looks at the player as an asset or a stock with rising and falling values. You need to combine both sides in order to fully evaluate a trade, but the business side is important to see why the Pirates would trade a player like McCutchen.

Just like the offseason, there are two things to consider for a McCutchen trade on the business side. The first is the return of the deal. The second is the approach that small market teams need to take. The Pirates aren’t going to be able to afford to keep McCutchen at free agent prices, while also building a contending team around him. As with all players, they need to maximize the value while the player is there, and trade him when a replacement comes along.

Austin Meadows is the eventual replacement for McCutchen. The 2017 season has shown us that the hamstring issues for Meadows continue, which just means that he is not a guarantee, which really doesn’t make him different from any other prospect. The key difference here is that we know the thing that could hold Meadows back, since his skills at the plate are less likely to be the issue for him making the jump to the majors and maintaining good production over the long-term.

If the Pirates extended McCutchen, they would be paying for his decline years, which may have already started. Meadows might not be better than Andrew McCutchen was in his prime, but it’s not hard to imagine him being better over the next five years than McCutchen will be at ages 31-35. When you add in the $15-20 M that the Pirates would save per year, and the value that money would get when spent on a different player/players, you get much more value moving on from McCutchen and going with Meadows.

This is very much a small market problem. Big market teams can keep a player like McCutchen beyond free agency, and not have to worry about prospects. They have many avenues for acquiring talent, whether it is trading top prospects for MLB help, or signing free agents — and if they make a mistake, they can afford to pave over that mistake with another similar deal. Small market teams need to keep finding cheaper options to replace the more expensive options, while also restocking the farm for future replacements.

The Pirates know that Meadows is the replacement for McCutchen. They now need to work on the eventual replacements for Starling Marte (under control through 2021) and Gregory Polanco (under control through 2023). That could happen in a trade for McCutchen, with a future replacement being added in the deal. It could also happen through other avenues, such as draft picks like Calvin Mitchell or Conner Uselton. The player may have already been in the system before the 2017 draft, like Jeremias Portorreal or Lolo Sanchez.

The downside to the business side is the realization that, as a small market fan, you’ll never have a situation where you can get attached to a player, because eventually they will be traded or will leave via free agency.

THE BATTLE OF EMOTIONS VS BUSINESS

I just want to add a quick section here noting that some people will be letting their emotions dictate their response to any deal, while some people will look at it from the business side. There’s nothing wrong with either approach. It’s going to be impossible to have calm discussions and debates about this issue, but the best approach would be to recognize where a person is probably coming from. If you’re taking the business view of the deal, then you’re probably not going to have success arguing your points to someone taking the emotional view, and vice-versa.

The best approach would be to try and see both sides, realizing that while it makes business sense, it might never look like a good deal from the emotional side. At the same time, while it might leave a sour taste from the emotional side, there would be legit business reasons to make this deal. The best way to get through this in a civil manner (and that seems very unlikely) would be to recognize both sides, and try to identify where you and other people are coming from with their views.

McCutchen’s Value

During the offseason, I pointed out that there was a reason to trade McCutchen at a “low value.” He was coming off a down year, and wasn’t getting the same attention that he would have a year before. But the extra year of control added value that made up for the loss in value that McCutchen’s struggles brought.

At the time, I had McCutchen’s trade value at $35.9 M if teams viewed him as a 4.0 WAR player. I also had him with a $33.7 M value in the upcoming offseason if he bounced back and looked like a 6.0 WAR player again in 2017. I’m not sure if that is happening right now, although you could make an argument that he’s getting there. He was the second most valuable position player in June, behind Aaron Judge. He’s currently 8th in July. This is the old Andrew McCutchen we’re seeing. We just don’t know how long it will last.

That was the other scenario I pointed out. If McCutchen’s value drops, he loses a ton of value. If he looks like a 3.0 WAR player, he’d have $9.7 M in value in the upcoming offseason. That makes the timing of a McCutchen trade very important.

There will probably be arguments to delay a McCutchen trade, saying that the Pirates could get better value for him over the offseason. This could be true. If McCutchen continues this pace the rest of the year, he will easily get that 6.0 WAR value over the offseason. Of course, if that happens, the emotions will be extremely strong, and people arguing to delay now will then be arguing to delay until the deadline in 2018, leaving the option to trade McCutchen if the Pirates aren’t contending next year.

The problem with the delay approach is that it leaves time for McCutchen to show the cracks in the armor of his value again. It’s easy to imagine him maintaining the current production for a few more weeks. But a few months to carry him to the 2017-18 offseason? A year to carry him to the next trade deadline? Those assumptions ignore the fact that he has struggled for months at a time in each of the last three seasons, with the struggle periods only getting longer as the years go on.

The Pirates might be able to get around $35 M in trade value right now, and possibly more when you factor in the trade deadline urgency. They might be able to get the same amount during the offseason if McCutchen continues this performance. But the longer they wait, the more opportunity they give to McCutchen struggling again, which would sink his value.

EVALUATING THE TRADE IN A VACUUM

Any McCutchen deal will be evaluated on the individual trade value, judging what the Pirates received in exchange for McCutchen. But the trade can’t be evaluated in a vacuum.

The other factors of a McCutchen trade include how his replacement performs. That would likely be Austin Meadows. If he comes in and matches the production of McCutchen, or comes close, that would have to be considered. The same could be said for the money the Pirates have left from a McCutchen trade, and what they do with that money. If one scenario has them with McCutchen, and another has them with Meadows and another player who costs $14 M, then those two scenarios would need to be compared to give another view of the trade.

That’s not to say that saving money is a main reason for a McCutchen trade. It’s just that this process can’t be ignored, and needs to be a factor for any small market team.

Getting Out of No-Man’s Land

The Pirates are in an interesting situation. They’re not far from being strong contenders, and you could argue they’d be in a much better spot this year if Jung Ho Kang didn’t have his visa issues, or if Starling Marte didn’t get suspended. They have a lot of young talent starting to arrive, and we’ve seen some of the inconsistent performances that come with young talent making the initial jump to the majors.

But they have the unfortunate situation of being in the same division with the Cubs, which means they have a more difficult road to contending than most teams. What might be good enough to contend for a division outside of the NL Central is not necessarily going to cut it in the NL Central.

The current Wild Card setup creates more “contenders” than ever, and I use quotes because some teams aren’t actually contenders, but think they have a shot. Take the Pirates, for example. They’re five games under .500, seven games out of first place, and nine games out of the Wild Card. Yet we still don’t really know if they’ll be sellers at the deadline.

The extra Wild Card spot gives false hope, and the value of winning the division (and avoiding a one-game playoff) drives urgency to improve. As a result, teams who commit to being sellers at the deadline can really enjoy massive returns, allowing them the potential to restock in a big way for the future. Just look at what the Cubs did at the start of this system.

The Cubs got to where they are now through many different avenues of acquiring talent. One of the things that gave them a big boost was being sellers for a few years at the deadline. Their biggest trade saw them land Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. They also received Dan Straily in that deal, who was later traded for Dexter Fowler. Billy McKinney was also acquired in that deal, and was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade last year.

The Cubs acquired Jake Arrieta in July the previous year, trading Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to get him. They also received Pedro Strop in that deal. Arrieta wasn’t as big of a name then, and really turned things around with the Cubs, but was still a good return for a back of the rotation starter and a backup catcher. They also traded Matt Garza that year, receiving 2017 bullpen members Carl Edwards and Justin Grimm.

In 2012, the Cubs received Kyle Hendricks as part of a Ryan Dempster trade. In those three years, they received a starting shortstop, two starting pitchers, two major bullpen pieces, the key piece in the Dexter Fowler trade, and a smaller piece in the Chapman trade.

You could argue that the Pirates have a good shot at winning in 2018 if this version of Andrew McCutchen shows up all year. But as we’ve seen this year, the Pirates don’t have a lot of margin for error. If they capitalize on the current market, and dedicate toward selling — which includes selling right now on McCutchen when his value is high — then they might build a stronger team in the long run, giving them more margin for error in the future.

  • All of this assumes NH has the same brass it takes to pull off a Quintana deal which we haven’t seen from him. He’s been more of a penny stock shopper.

    • RUUUUUSSSSSHHHHAAAAA!!!
      July 15, 2017 1:47 am

      In all fairness, he can only shop with what he’s given.

  • BallHeadWonder
    July 14, 2017 6:09 pm

    I know Mark Melancon is not Andrew McCutchen. The emotional attachment with him was massive when we traded him!!! People didn’t know who the hell Felipe Rivero was. I have full confidence that NH will make the right decision for this organization!! You can criticize his drafting ability and truly it is a shot in the dark with all of these kids, but he has done well more times than not in his trading ability and when to pull the trigger!! How did he know Joel Hanrahan’s career would end the very next season he traded for Melancon?? Then turn around and dump Melancon for Rivero and now Melancon has had 2 DL stints and not having the contract signing season he wanted to in San Fran. I can name a few other trades that he has dumped our players and we have gotten great pieces for the future. Does he hit 100 percent of the time?? NO!! But he has taken TRASHY franchise with steel handcuffs with the payroll and has bought us from the worse franchise to a respected one and for that, he has my full confidence. He has no control over Marte’s PED use, he has no control over Kang’s alcohol use, he has no control over Taillon’s health setbacks. 3 KEY PIECES for us to contend with a very small window to do so!! So the McCutchen talk is very relevant when you are talking about our future. McCutchen knows that and if a package is presented to use with the future in mind, as much as I love McCutchen and want him to retire a Pirate, I also understand we are not in that era of baseball. We wish him well and enjoy our new prospects or MLB players with years of control.

  • Chris Thomas
    July 14, 2017 5:47 pm

    If they do decide to trade cutch they should trade Cole as well. Either try hard for next year or reload the farm and start a new era

  • I have no problem trading Cutch for the right deal. I think the need to find/build that core to begin the opening a real window is the priority. Meadows, Bell, Tallion, Rivero, Polanco, adding a top prospect from Cutch is certainly a good start. Pirates need to compete with talent gained from all sources vs the Cubs. If the Yankees want to overpay for Cole, even better. Frazier, the SS would really position the Pirates to win.

    • Are you thinking Gleybar Torres from the yanks?

      • Isn’t he getting TJ surgery?

        • Yeah on his npn throwing arm. Hurt it on a slide. He was talking about the yankees trading for cole, then mentioned frazier. Frazier is an outfielder and torres is a shortstol.

          • I think Torres is moving to 3rd. But hell they could use a 3rd baseman too and reuniting Frazier with Meadows makes a nice story. Let’s get one or both.

      • Yes. I am going with the approach if you trade Cole you do it with elite prospects in mind. Frazier and Torres fit that bill. If not keep him.

  • CuseBoodaah
    July 14, 2017 1:13 pm

    Austin Meadows is NOT the answer. Can you imagine the pressure he’ll feel as the guy who replaced the ” FACE ” of the Pirates. I’ve seen him play and in my humble opinion he’s only a AAAA type player at best. I feel the same way about Tyler Glasnow. Until he learns to throw something besides curve balls to AAA batters as an out pitch, he will NOT succeed in MLB. Huntington should package them both in a deal to acquire a power hitting third baseman or a front line starter. Give ‘Cutch a 10 million LIFE TIME playing contract. When HE feels he is no longer productive, he will step away and the Bucs can retain his services in what ever capacity and contract is agreed upon be it as a coach, instructor, or community leader.

  • Regardless what happens with Cutch and when it happens, there’s no doubt how NH navigates these waters will define his tenure as GM of the Pirates.

    His decision will clearly define the direction of the Club in the near future. Let’s hope he chooses wisely.

    • I am not so pessimistic. The most important thing for NH to do is stay the course. By the time Keller and Tucker’s class at Bradenton reaches AAA the Bucs will be deep. 2019 and 2020 ought to be awesome years.

  • Cutch and Cole to AL teams for enormous returns…would be nice. Also, the Red Sox need a thrid baseman. JHay would work well for them and they some nice arms for us.

  • A really interesting article.
    In reality which teams either need or would like to add Cutch at the deadline?

    • The Nationals could have a need. Werth keeps getting injured in left and his contract is over after this year and Cutch would be an upgrade over Taylor in Center. The Dodgers also could use McCutchen imo. I wouldn’t say anyone needs and outfielder though.

  • I love the last section, getting out of No-Man’s Land.

    Make no mistake, this is a creation of their own doing. By failing to make a concerted effort in one focused direction, they’ve created a situation where their resources have spread too thin to do any one thing well. The overwhelming reality of current Major League Baseball is that the never-ending window theory is a myth. This is, by far, Huntington’s greatest failure of policy.

    Small markets simply do not have the resources to continually reload in a manner that makes them legitimate contenders. By not accepting minor steps back in order to reload for a higher peak on the win cycle, they’ve neither put themselves in a position to contend nor maximized future talent. They’ve built .500 ballclubs and hope they luck into 86-88 wins.

    • piraterican21
      July 14, 2017 12:11 pm

      A .500 club is a profitable club.

    • There’s some merit to your point, but I would contend this: this team would appear very different this year if a) Kang and Marte aren’t idiots, b) Watson and Hudson didn’t end up being terrible, c) Cole pitched consistently like an ace should. I thought on paper leading into this season that this was a well-constructed, contending team. Not saying that the FO strategy is without blame, they definitely hedge their bets and shoot for the “perennial contender” approach with WC-level goals, but I think it would have worked a little better than you give credit for had a lot of things out of NH’s control not happened this year.

      • Agree it would have been a little hasty to rebuild prior to this season. But given that in a matter of weeks the FO has gone from we’re optimistic about Kang to we don’t think he’ll ever come back it seems like setting the stage to sell. I can live with the FO getting things right eventually

      • So, this is the risk you run when you build a ~.500 ballclub.

        This is baseball. If your “plan” is to have everything work out as expected, you’re bound to fail.

        • Darkstone42
          July 14, 2017 3:13 pm

          I don’t think this team is a ~.500 ballclub with Marte and Kang. They’re both very good hitters, Marte is an elite defender and baserunner on top of it. A bench with Freese and Frazier/Jaso on it instead of them forced into the starting lineup is also much better than what we have. The defense would have been much better this year, and so would have the offense.

          The team without them is not very good, but they can hover around .500. But those two are good enough players, especially with McCutchen’s resurgence, to have hidden the team’s flaws in the bullpen.

          And that doesn’t even require the conditions that Cole pitches like an ace or Watson and Hudson perform. This team is right there in the division hunt this year just with Marte and Kang.

          • Couple things…

            -You can *think* that, but projections serve a purpose.
            -This club hasn’t gotten closer than five games under in months. You wanna call that “hovering”, then fine, but five games under, at best, is really bad.
            -Playing if-all-these-guys-perform game opens up the same treatment to a host of other teams, if we’re having an honest discussion. I mean, you don’t think optimistic Mets and Giants and Cards fans could say the same?
            -I’d argue that the largest factor to boost or doom a team’s true talent is in fact the bullpen.

    • Trading Cutch is probably best opportunity to get out of no man’s land. However, I would contend a team with Cole, Taillon, Nova, and possibly the Glasnow we thought he was a couple years ago, fronting the staff, with Cutch, Marte, Bell, Polanco, and Kang hitting like they are capable of isn’t a team in no man’s land.

      • I agree with you. Had everything clicked then it’d be different but we are where we are unfortunately. This is where the team stands even with Cutch and his unbelievable resurgence. Right now you pretty much have to trade the face of the franchise for younger, cheaper high ceiling players, put the guy who just got suspended for 80 games back in CF to replace him and hope the guy who put lives in danger overseas gets back here in 2018 and plays 3rd and hits for power. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to take an hour long shower to get clean again.

      • This was a club projected to be roughly a .500 team prior to Marte’s suspension *with* ~3 WAR from Cutch and ~2 WAR from Glasnow baked in.

        Jeff Sullivan made a fantastic point in one of his recent articles. The current level of parity in Major League Baseball is as much a blessing as a curse. With so many teams floating in this nondescript middle, you have to be *good* in order to actually differentiate yourself. To actually improve your chances of making the playoffs. Otherwise, it’s you and 6-8 other teams floating in this relative purgatory hoping to catch a break for one of two wild card spots.

      • That being said, you could convince me that keeping Cutch and Cole and making a strong, concerted effort to completely rebuild the bullpen and add a first division 2B or 3B this winter would put them in a position to be a legitimate contender for the division in 2018.

        • Which is where I’m at. And I think you could even cash in on Cole and still be competitive next year, provided NH replaces Cole with an actual proven starting pitcher and not Brault/Hutch.

        • Not a doubt in my mind. I hate to be skeptical though, but I would be mighty surprised if that happened.

          • What’s even more tantalizing is that I believe the Pirates mostly have what they need already in the system already. They’ll just be unwilling to do what they need to utilize them.

            I believe Kingham, Holmes, Glas, and Brault are all big league-quality pitchers next year. They’re just not all starters. Kuhl and Williams aren’t out of the woods yet there, either.

            While Kuhl, Glas, and Holmes probably have the most upside of them all based on pure stuff, they all have a very real risk of never putting the command together to be more than what Williams, Brault, and Kingham can be in the rotation.

            Yet, holy shit, do I think every one of those first three arms could step into leveraged bullpen innings and be successful. There’s your four-deep pen of multi-inning guys anchored by Rivero without spending a dime, with three decent back-end starters still capable of filling two spots in the rotation.

            All your resources then go to filling the infield and bench.

            • Agree and have made this point as well. Why wait as development starters when needed today as relievers. Not like they can’t move later or by then Baz and Keller and Hines are ready.
              Not sure we need the 3rd baseman either if Kang is available again.

    • Exactly

    • Another example of Huntington getting blamed for something his boss could have forced him to do despite NH advising against – I’m just saying it might not be his idea just his job to execute it. Agree with you completely otherwise.

      • I mean, arguing a hypothetical is one way to ensure you can’t be “wrong” I suppose, but can you think of a single time Nutting has actually meddled in the *execution* of the organization’s plans?

        This is his best quality, IMO. He sets the budget, but stays the hell out of the way once it’s there.

        • Also a way to agree with you when we know who to blame. I think it’s pretty difficult to divorce the budget and execution completely. The budget in and of itself is a constraint on execution in the Pirates case it’s an enormous constraint the budget has closed several doors for execution.

          • Yeah that’s a fair take and one I’m sympathetic to, just trying to separate issues out from all falling on Nutting’s lap.

            • Huntington is a tough eval on this site I tend to defend him but there are some misses . Rogers although low stakes is a miss Walker probably should have been traded for prospects should have DFA Bastardo kept Webb early trades not real stellar. If hurdle or nh are fired I’m curious if you that means searage goes with them. I don’t believe he can fix everyone but he’s part of what is producing something

    • Is NMR for the Numeraire coin? Inquiring ryptos want to know.

    • While your analysis holds today I think in 2 + years or so it will be obsolete. When the crew now at Bradenton reaches AAA the Pirates will be DEEP! It just takes longer to stack the system with talent then we would like. The problem right now is that AAA Indy doesn’t have much support to offer. In a few years it will be stacked and so will the Bucs.

  • Meadows will never perform at the same level as Cutch. I have no basis for that statement only as someone who enjoys to wager. Cutch has and will continue to impact games. Meadows in my opinion has lost some of his shine.

  • lets make it easy everyone is on the block, some will be a big over paid only. some are, need a good offer, some are lets get some salary of the books and take anything. ps if cutch is not traded than the pirates pick up his offer right?

  • I’m confused is being in the same division as cubs more of a penalty/hindrance than sharing division with dodgers or nats? Or are you talking about next year?

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 14, 2017 10:52 am

    Until Meadows shows he can dominate AAA, he is an unproven commodity. It would be a HUGE drop off from McCutchen to Meadows.

  • Tim should we add value for Cutch since the Pirates or any team trading for Cutch would assuredly give him a qualifying offer after next year thus getting a first round pick? If so what is the perceived value of a mid level first round pick?

    • its a third pick now.

      • Depends on how big a contract Cutch signs. Could be after the 1st round, could be after the 2nd.

        From MLB: “If a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer signs a contract that is worth at least a guaranteed $50 million in total value, and his previous club is one of the teams that receives revenue sharing, said club will be given a compensatory pick immediately following Round 1 in the next year’s Draft. If such a club loses a free agent for a contract worth less than a guaranteed $50 million in total value, the club will receive a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B (which follows the second round).”

  • A top prospect with a specific injury with a very high probability of recurrence clearly mAkes him different than prospects with same skill set without such an injury.

    • Meadows recent declines in various prospect listings show that very thing. Unfortunate for the youngster that he’s is injury prone.

      • There’s also a bit of performance when healthy factoring into the declines here as well.

        With the caveat that he’s still only 22, he has yet to show that he can actually pair the hit tool and the power tool together in game action against AAA arms. Last year’s pull-heavy approach produced the power numbers scouts were waiting to see, but his hit tool suffered because of it. This year when he got on track driving balls to the opposite field his hit tool rebounded, but he simply doesn’t have power the other way.

        In this era of baseball, power has to be part of your game in ordered to be considered elite if you aren’t a plus defender at C, SS, or CF. That doesn’t mean that Meadows isn’t still a really, really good prospect, but elite is reserved for guys with more than what he’s shown in AAA. A wait-and-see approach with him seems prudent.

        • One could respond with simply the two words “Josh Bell” to counter the power issue. However, I’m very concerned about the chronic hammy issue. That may take him out of the discussion for CF and force him to RF. Which, of course means GP in LF… and we know what that looks like.

          At any rate, I’m in no way convinced the Bucs will even get an offer that’s worth Cutch this season. Perhaps in the offseason. I’m much more concerned with NH (actually BN) dictating a cut in payroll once (if) the Bucs are officially out of contention, forcing NH to make a less than ideal trade.

          Cole is an asset Bucs can get top dollar for. I’d focus on him first.

          I do think this team can be very competitive in 2018 with most of the same cast (replace 3-4 pen arms, upgrade bench, get a frontline starter to replace Cole if traded).

          • I’m not sure whose point you’re trying to make with Bell, who himself has seen his power surge on the backs of a pull-heavy approach at the expense of his average. He’s very much in the same boat of having yet to put both together. He’s also an effing monster of a human, unlike a mere mortal like Meadows. 😉

            • Your point. Bell might be figuring it out. I’m not really sure what a good BA is for a power hitter. Certainly .300 would be nice, but what about .270 with a .340 OBP? Because he’s almost that over June/July (.264/.348/.528/.876). If he can keep that up, pretty sure I’d be happy with it. SSS, but I think possibly with significance. Downside is he may still be more a platoon player than we currently believe.

        • Right now Luplow looks on track to replace Cutch initially. Meadows will be the 4th outfielder until he finds his game, which he will eventually. Hopefully in time to replace Marte.

      • Eloy Jiminez missed 5 weeks at the beginning of the season due tio a shoulder injury, and currently he hasn’t been able to play more than 3 consecutive games in the OF due to : hamstring issues ! 20 years old, is he ” injury prone ” also ?

        • His High A slash isn’t a ton better than a handful of guys in Bradenton. He doesn’t even play up the middle but damn does he have hype

        • Nothing personal against Eloy, but since he’s now a Cub, I certainly hope so.

  • I’ve always thought you can get better value (if you accept prospects as opposed to players already on a ML roster) at the trade deadline than in the off-season. At the trade deadline, buying teams are smelling pennant and will overpay (from minor league systems) to get there. Is there any validity to that thought?

    • I’m with “Mouse.”

      I hope they trade Cutch to a contending AL team, so he has a chance to perform in the playoffs and go for the WS.

      That never will happen on a BN owned etam.

  • Weren’t the Cubs also tanking those years paving the way for Bryant and Happ and a lot of trade pieces they’ve used in the last 12 mo? If Texas is thinking of dismantling their team I think the aggressive rebuild trend may be more pervasive than originally thought. Additionally the lack of wc race in NL may make the trade market more buyer friendly. Yeah the Cubs overpaid to be really early on this years deadline I think teams expecting comps will be disappointed I see the Astros sticking to their guns targeting pen and rentals and being confident in their lineup.

    • Life would be much easier as a Pirates fan if the damn Astros would’ve taken Bryant first that year and left Appel for the Cubs.

      • The Pirates would now have David Dahl instead of Austin Meadows. Dahl looks pretty good at this point.

        • Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the 2013 draft not 2012. I wonder how that went down. I assume it’s just business but what exactly do you say? “I know we planned on drafting you David, but we just didn’t expect Meadows to fall into our lap and he’s better than you. With any luck Colorado will take you and your numbers will thrive.”

        • Dahl was one of the best OFs I saw in AA last year.

  • Tim,

    Do you think this homestand against 2 division rivals above us in the standings, will determine if we do buy or sell? Also, predict the first Pirate to be traded!

    • I have predicted Cole will be traded before Cutch but it will probably be a trade that isn’t on the radar at this point.

      • Count me in favor of a Cole Trade! Somebody will give Cole a 6 year 30 million a year contract in a year or so, and I am glad that isn’t us.Cole will NEVER be “da Man,” the guy you hand the ball to with the season on the line! He’ll be a nice 2nd or 3rd pitcher on some cash drunk AL team (probably) but will never be an Ace.

        • I love the guy and would like to have him around (reminds me of Bob Moose) but his agent will never let him sign a :”team friendly ” contract – Strike while the iron is hot.

        • And you are the one person in the world who knows this ( Cole will NEVER be “da Man,” ) for sure ??? Seriously ??? SMFH…

      • I would love to see him go to the Brewers just so they can screw up the Cubs for the division. I know no trades to rivals but they’re pretty flush with prospects. However, wouldn’t want to trade Cutch to Mil

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