Andrew McCutchen trade rumors have started to swirl as the Pirates and Nationals seem to be inching toward a deal for the 30-year-old outfielder. Would it make sense for Brian Cashman to jump on the phone and immediately try to work on a deal of his own?
The Yankees have a bit of an outfield problem at the moment, in that one of their outfielders is on a huge contract that is likely to only start looking worse and an outfielder who is on a team-friendly deal but may have already lost a step or two. Then there is the uncertainty of Aaron Judge, who will most likely be fine but struggled in his first taste of the big leagues.
By that measure, the outfield is full...but it isn’t full of promising things at the moment. Clint Frazier and Blake Rutherford wait in the wings as well, though they aren’t expected to play a big role in the beginning of 2017 at least. So what can the Yankees do about their outfield problem?
Trading for McCutchen would certainly improve the status of the outfield. He had a down year in 2016, but was truly one of the game’s best players before that. It’s okay to narrow your eyes a bit at his .256/.336/.430 performance from last year, but chances are good that he’s going to bounce back.
The Yankees finally have a farm system that can sustain a deal for a good player like McCutchen. They have one of the deepest systems in baseball at the moment. The Pirates are rumored to be interested in Victor Robles and Reynaldo Lopez, as well as a third player. Robles is the tenth best prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com. Would the Yankees be willing to match that sort of deal?
Any McCutchen deal for New York would also necessitate the trade of an outfielder. In this case, it would most likely be Brett Gardner. Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t really have any trade value to speak of at this time and it feels like Gardner’s name has been connected to trades forever. McCutchen wouldn’t block prospect outfielders long-term either, which would be the benefit of him over a free agent outfielder on a long deal like a Jose Bautista.
Common knowledge says no, the Yankees won’t go after McCutchen. However, they still have an outfield problem that needs to be addressed. It remains to be seen how, exactly, they plan to do that.