Earlier this evening, ESPN’s Keith Law reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates, presumably frustrated with their lock of progress in negotiating a long term contract with center fielder Andrew McCutchen, would listen to offers on the 25 year old super star who is still under team control until after the 2015 season.

Cue: mass hysteria, unrealistic mock trade proposals and scorn for the Pittsburgh Pirates front office.

Don’t worry Pittsburgh fans. Everything is going to be all right. Pirates GM Neal Huntington isn’t an idiot. He’s actually rather clever.

In attempting to strike a deal with McCutchen, the Pirates front office would gain an understanding of the gap between what they’re willing to pay the 2011 All-Star and what he’s seeking. Prior to caving into their player’s demands, the prudent thing to do would be to not only see how other teams value that potential investment, but also if the value that McCutchen offers can be had at a cheaper rate while he’s still a valuable commodity.

Law mentions Justin Upton’s contract with the Arizona Diamonbacks in his analysis of McCutchen’s worth and it’s an apt comparison. The D’Backs’ right fielder signed a six year $51.25 million deal which bought out his final year at league minimum, three arbitration years and first two years of free agency. After narrowly missing out on Super Two status, McCutchen will be in his final season at league minimum before being eligible for his first of three salary arbitration years ahead of the 2013 season.

It’s no coincidence that one of the first moves that Arizona GM Kevin Towers made in the off season after he took over from Josh Byrnes was to open up discussions with other teams on Upton. The young All-Star was about to get a major increase in pay going from $500,000 in 2010 to $4.25 million in 2011, and before reaping what the previous general manager had sown, Towers did his due diligence in discovering Upton’s worth and the comparative value of what teams considered it to be.

Because McCutchen has one more year of low cost team control, plays a more demanding position and still manages to put up a similar weighted on base average, it should be interesting to see how teams consider his worth in comparison to Upton who was locked up for five years at more than $50 million during last year’s off season. Without a contract in place, McCutchen only has four years of team control, but as I’ve mentioned, one of those years will be at league minimum.

When all is said and done, I doubt McCutchen gets moved. He’s far too valuable of a player to a franchise that was wise enough not to go all in at the trade deadline when they found themselves unexpectedly still in contention in the National League Central Division.

Comments (16)

  1. “When all is said and done, I doubt McCutchen gets moved. He’s far too valuable of a player to a franchise that was wise enough not to go all in at the trade deadline when they found themselves unexpectedly still in contention in the National League Central Division.”

    … but every Jays fan just put together a package involving David Cooper, Brett Cecil and one of the AA arms for him…

  2. That’s okay. Reds fans put together a package involving Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez and a Minor Leaguer too.

  3. Rasmus, Molina, Cecil, Alvarez, Cooper. Done

    • Troll detected.

    • It’s not unfair per-se, but the Pirates are going to want an elite player back, and while Rasmus has tantalizing potential and has shown flashes (and he’s the guy on this list) I think the Pirates would and should pass. Also, when I say it’s not unfair, it isn’t, but a trade is going to have to be unfair, in the Pirates favor, for them to bite.

      If the Jays want Cutch, I’m fairly sure the conversation starts and ends with Lawrie.

      Lawrie, Cooper, and two of Snydergaard, Hutchinson, Molina I’d say.

      McCutchen’s trade value is absolutely through the roof right now. He’s also team controlled for 4 more years, so for him to get moved, a team is going to have to overpay big time to get him. I understand that my above proposal is an overpay by the Jays, but that’s what it’s going to take.

      • Thinking about it for a second more, positionally it would make no sense for the Jays to trade Lawrie and keep Rasmus.

        Rasmus, Gose, Cooper, and two of Snydergaard, Hutcninson, and Molina may get it done. To complete the trade, the Pirates could send James McDonald back. He’s a #4-5 starter, with #3 upside and plenty of team control. Pirates would probably want an interesting 6th guy back. Maybe a PTBNL that ends up being Christian Lopes.

  4. I’d be fine with a package of any 3 Jays not named Bautista, Rasmus, Snider, Lawrie, and Romero for McCutchen. Or put another way – Alvarez + any 2 prospects PIT chooses (they’re bound to want the wrong guys anyway).

    • I’d make that deal too…doesn’t seem like a great one for pittsburg though. I’d rank McCutchen above both Rasmus and Snider. Not sure why either one would be excluded from a deal. (Not that I believe there is one)

  5. EVERYONE makes that deal unless they’re an idiot. Sorry pie-in-the-sky Jays fans, but any deal for a major-league ready stud (well, ones who don’t fight with TLR, anyway) is going to involve either Gose, D’Arnaud, Lawrie and a young pitcher like Molina. Most teams aren’t dumb, and the ones that are *cough* Baltimore *cough* don’t have what we’re looking for.

    • Have you seen my proposal? I honestly think it’s pretty darned fair… I recently graduated from the school of fair trade proposals.

      • Don’t try to throw me off my tantrum by being the only person on here to post a semi-reasonable trade offer! :P

        To be honest, I wouldn’t trade Rasmus or Alvarez. I still think you’d have to replace one of your pieces with D’Arnaud or Gose though.

  6. I would give up Rasmus for McCutchen every single day. And throw in more on top. IN any case, with McCutchen, Rasmus wouldn’t really have a place to play.

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