The Pittsburgh Pirates face an awkward situation heading into the 2017 season.
After trying hard to trade star CF Andrew McCutchen, it appears the trade market has dried up for the 2013 National League MVP.
A potential deal with the Washington Nationals fell through and it appears the New York Mets are dragging their feet on a possible trade.
So, now it’s time to get creative in order to make a move. There are teams out there that need an outfielder, and McCutchen is still one of the best.
He’s not a great defensive center fielder anymore, but he’d still be an important piece on a contending team.
Here are three teams that the Pirates should call to try to work out a deal:
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are going to lose 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion this offseason and will also likely part ways with OF Jose Bautista, leaving a huge hole in the middle of their lineup.
Adding McCutchen to fill Bautista’s outfield spot would be a great move, and likely one that could keep Toronto in the playoff hunt.
However, finding prospects in the Blue Jays’ farm system isn’t easy. There’s plenty of talent at the High-A level, but not much talent that’s close to being MLB-ready. Any deal would likely have to include High-A OF Anthony Alford and potentially a current major leaguer.
Texas Rangers: Carlos Gomez had a good finish to the 2016 season in his 33 games with the Rangers, but he’s been on a backslide lately. Relying on him to man center field all season may hamper Texas’s playoff aspirations.
Unlike the Blue Jays, the Rangers do have some top-level minor-league talent in their system. A deal centered around LHP Yohander Mendez and 1B Ronald Guzman could entice the Pirates to ship McCutchen to Arlington.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners’ outfield was a disaster in 2016. Starters Leonys Martin and Seth Smith both failed to reach a .250 average and late-season fill-in Ben Gamel hit only .200 in limited action.
For a team with a solid infield and a decent pitching rotation, having an outfielder like Andrew McCutchen in the mix could help them reach the playoffs a year after finishing 86-76, three games out of the second AL wildcard spot.
In return, the Pirates could get a deal centered around Double-A OF Tyler O’Neill, who mashed 24 home runs and had 102 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 2016. He’s quite the prospect, but the Mariners are ready to make a playoff push now and can’t afford to wait around for O’Neill to join the mix.