Here's a fun trade rumor to get the hot stove cooking.
The talks, while unlikely to revive because of differences in McCutchen's perceived value, amount to the strongest indication yet that the Pirates are willing to move their five-time All-Star and franchise player.
The Nationals' top outfield prospect, Victor Robles, 19, was one Pirates target, sources said. But the Pirates wanted more than just the Class A outfielder for McCutchen, and a number of other players would have been involved.
McCutchen was in the midst of a career-worst season, and he finished the year with a career-low 103 OPS+ and horrid defensive metrics. Of course, he remains relatively young -- he just turned 30 -- and he'd been a consistent All-Star or MVP-caliber performer in his first six-plus seasons in the majors. As such, there's sufficient reason to think some kind of rebound is in order.
The Pirates sure hope so. McCutchen remains pivotal to their success in multiple ways. How he plays, yes, but there's also the likelihood that he's going to be traded before the end of his contract -- which, assuming the club option for 2018 is exercised, is less than two years away.
If McCutchen plays like his old self in 2017, expect the trade rumors to continue to swirl. Otherwise, we'll be left to wonder how things went south so fast for one of baseball's best talents.