Cutch Staying Put

Looks like Cutch isn’t going anywhere. At least for now. The Nationals seemed to be on the hunt to make a trade with Pittsburgh for Cutch, but the price seemed to be too high, and the Nats made a move with the South Side Sox for Adam Eaton. Washington gets their much needed outfielder and Pittsburgh’s 5-time All Star stays put. Eaton spent most of his time in right field last year but will likely slide back to center with Bryce Harper in right.

The Nationals gave up a fair amount to get Adam Eaton. Top prospect Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning are packing their bags. The Bucs wanted their top fielding prospect, Victor Robles, in addition to the names mentioned and the Nats said no way.

Cutch vs. Eaton

Eaton: Eaton signed a 5 year, $23.5 million contract with the White Sox in 2015, locking him up through 2019, and included 2 team options keeping him through 2021. He has $18.4 million left through 2019, and a total of $38.4 million left if both team options are exercised. Eaton is 28 years old and hit .284 in 2016 with 14 HR and 59 RBI.

Cutch: Cutch is locked up through 2017 for $14 million with a team option on his contract for 2018 at $14.5 million. Cutch is 30 and hit .256 with 24 HR and 79 RBI. Cutch took a big decline from his 2012-2015 numbers where he averaged .313 with 100 HR and 359 RBIs. Cutch’s defense took a massive decline as well where he had -28 defensive runs saved in 2016.

So did the Nats make the right choice? What if Cutch bounces back to his perennial All Star numbers? Did the Nats give up too much?

It seems Eaton would be more valuable given his age and his friendly contract. Eaton had a 6.2 WAR replacement in 2016. Cutch had -0.7. If the decline continues, the right move was made. Nationals fans would’ve been very happy with Cutch playing in Washington. He could very easily write off 2016 as a down year and post MVP numbers once again. Some analysts seem to think that the Nats GM made the worst trade they’ve ever seen for Eaton.

The Pirates had a deal on the table for Giolito, Dunning, and a 3rd player for Cutch, but it didn’t happen. 2 of the 3 names sent to Chicago for Eaton were offered. Not sure if the 3rd name was better or worse than Reynaldo Lopez, or who declined the offer.

So, for now, Cutch stays put. The Dodgers were another team asking the Pirates about Cutch. Nothing really progressed, but anything could change at the Winter Meetings. But Neal Huntington said the plan is to hold Cutch. Looks like we will see him in black and gold come Opening Day 2017.

I never wanted to see Cutch get traded, but I understand completely why they would consider it. He is the guy I wish I could see retire with Pittsburgh. He put Pittsburgh baseball back on the map. He took a team friendly deal to play where he wanted to play. Sure it made sense to take $51.5 million at age 25, but he could’ve said no to try his luck on free agency instead of buying out some FA years.

Fans are happy he is staying, but keeping Cutch could have a massive downside. There is still no way the Pirates will resign him once he becomes a free agent. If he continues to decline, they missed their window to gain value. The Pirates will try to trade him again either mid-season or next off-season and teams won’t give up much for 1 year of a guy showing no signs of playing better. It’s going to be a wait and see sort of thing.

If the Pirates really wanted to clean up on Cutch’s value, he would’ve been traded after 2015. You could’ve named your price and then some for 3 years of Cutch. No one saw the down year coming. But if Neal Huntington made that trade after 2015, things would’ve gotten ugly.

Come Opening Day 2017 Cutch shouldn’t be the starting center fielder. There were reports saying the Pirates were going to talk with him about the move to either left or right to allow Starling Marte his chance to play center as one of the best defensive players in baseball.

So how do you feel if you’re Cutch? Lots of fans are saying the Pirates betrayed him. They’re saying the owner is cheap. They’re saying they don’t want to win.

It sucked when all the reports came out and said “the Pirates are contacting teams aggressively trying to move Cutch.” That felt almost like they turned their back on him and were determined to move him no matter what. It was later said that teams were calling the Pirates asking to make a trade for him. That is much much better. Neal Huntington actually did the right thing. You should listen on everyone, and ask for a high price for your valuable guys. If they meet it, great! If not, don’t settle.

Betrayal? No. It’s business. Would the Yankees look to trade Cutch in the same situation? Probably not, but they can afford to keep him through his contract, give him a qualifying offer, and maybe even resign him in free agency. Any team SHOULD listen to any player at any given time. Once again, ask for the moon. If they pay up, great. Consider your options and potential. If not, you still keep a great player. Every team is trying to get better all the time.

They explored value. They weren’t dumping him. That’s actually a great GM move. The Liriano move was a salary dump and seemed ridiculous. It’ll be considered ridiculous until we see what the Pirates get out of Drew Hutchison. But it wasn’t a new set “norm” the Pirates were going to follow.

Bob Nutting is cheap? Yes. He is. But only because he doesn’t have the money to spend that other owners have. That’s the reality in Pittsburgh. Sure, he is the 9th or 10th richest owner in baseball. But that doesn’t mean he is dipping into his personal savings account to pay players. He is rich, but do you think he is spending his personal cash on his roster payroll? He wouldn’t have any money left if that was the case.

Now if Cutch was traded and his money that was freed up wasn’t put back into the team, that is where you have a problem.

The Pirates do want to win. They want to win for a long time. That might be a problem though. A winning record is nice every year, but when do you go all in to win a World Series? Prospects are great to have on the farm, but they can also bring some win-now talent to help bring that title to your city.

No team goes from a 98 win season and says, “Let’s use the next year as a bridge year to try to win in 2017.” That isn’t right. You won 98 games… Do something to add to that 98 win team. I could go on forever about it. Cutch is staying. That’s the point. Win while you have him.

The priority still needs to be pitching for the Pirates. Whether it’s a free agent signing or a trade for someone, it has to be done. The offense is staying the same and will be great with or without Cutch, but the runs you score don’t mean anything if your pitching gives them back to the other team.

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