‘Twas the day before Christmas,
and all through the league,
the Blue Jays were hunting
for outfield leads.
Just when the Blue Jays’ hot stove was supposed to cool for the Holiday season, Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Toronto continues to kick around the idea of an Andrew McCutchen deal — among other trade options — in an effort to boost their outfield.
McCutchen has been rumoured to be available throughout the off-season, and given the package that the Chicago White Sox got in return for Adam Eaton, Pittsburgh could still cash in big on their franchise player.
In that deal, Chicago landed Lucas Giolito, considered by many to be the top pitching prospect in baseball and already an MLB-ready arm. Also included in the deal was RHP Reynaldo Lopez, who MLB.com named the No. 38 prospect in baseball in their mid-2016 rankings, and RHP Dane Dunning, who is now slotted in as Chicago’s No. 10 organizational prospect.
Eaton’s team-friendly contract was a driver of that package, but McCutchen’s is quite attractive too. The 30-year-old is due $14 million in 2017 with a $14.75 million team option for 2018 ($1M buyout). Even coming off a career-worst season with a 0.7 fWAR, poor defensive metrics, and an uncharacteristic .776 OPS, the possibility of a significant rebound makes those annual values easy to accept.
The issue, of course, is acquisition cost. When viewed in a league-wide context, the Blue Jays simply do not have a Giolito or Moncada. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is their closest bet, but given how young he is, any “big name” negotiations would start there and include several other highly-valued pieces.
Pittsburgh is also in no rush with McCutchen, who could help to boost his value with a strong start to 2017 and land the Pirates an even better package.
More details to come on this story over the coming week.