Pirates active in search of Andrew McCutchen trade

Posted December 02, 2016

It didn't take long for the Andrew McCutchen sweepstakes to heat up.

The Nats have many prospects Robles, as well as pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. But one evaluator described the Nationals as very, very high on the five-tool Robles. They could move a top prospect - something they have always been reluctant to do - or they could move a proven player.

McCutchen is signed for $14 million in 2017, with a $14.75 million club option for 2018 that can be bought out for $1 million.

Espinosa, who made $2.875 million in 2016, is eligible for arbitration if the Nationals tender the 29-year-old. Last season was a down year - he had a 4.57 ERA in 177⅓ innings - but from 2010, when he joined the rotation full-time, to '15, he had a 3.31 ERA, two All-Star appearances and a third-place Cy Young finish.

It's not official, but the two teams are without a doubt getting far enough in talks that a McCutchen deal is starting to look likely. Moving McCutchen would provide even more (but with the Pirates, money to spend is only theoretical until they spend it).

The Nationals, according to one executive, would like to make this deal Thursday, so they would be free to nontender shortstop Danny Espinosa before Friday's tender deadline.

Starling Castro would reportedly move from left field to center if the Pirates trade McCutchen. We know that the Nationals have been in search of a center fielder and McCutchen would be a nice fit. That could give the Pirates slight leverage.