One big part of the happenings during the Major League Baseball offseason is the efforts made by the Pittsburgh Pirates to trade veteran Andrew McCutchen.
During the just ended season, McCutchen struggled at the plate, in the field and running the bases. That makes some worry about the possibility of a premature decline.
However, he is not that far below the peak he enjoyed between 2012 and 2015 that keep in fifth or higher each season in National League MVP voting.
In addition, McCutchen is loved by fans in the Steel City and is the principle face of the renaissance of baseball in the city.
Given that, it is slightly difficult and upsetting for many to vision McCutchen wearing a different uniform. Nevertheless, the Pirates are limited in their resources and must get younger and less expensive whenever it is possible.
That in turn causes the roster to change often, and occasionally there are goodbyes that become painful for many involved. That happened when Neil Walker was traded to New York after being a lifer with the Pirates last year.
McCutchen will be owed a minimum of $15 million and entering the season will be 30, and the Pirates had aggressively shopped him prior to last week’s winter meetings.
A trade has not yet come to fruition, and it is still quite possible he will spend the entire 2017 season with the Pirates, but beyond that point, things become quite uncertain.
For a long time it appeared the Pirates and McCutchen would come to an agreement on another long term deal prior to his club option for 2018 played out. However, his struggles during 2016 seemed to change the idea by the Pirates of another long-term deal.
It is rare that a player today stays with just one team during his entire professional career, especially due to how much a player can demand in free agency.
While the legacy of McCutchen as a legend with the Pirates remains secure, his status over the long term as a team member is not, it seems.
Regardless of how things work out during this offseason, at the trade deadline next year or even during the 2017 offseason, one thing is for sure, McCutchen could return with an incredible season statistically in 2017 in any uniform and quiet all the doubters that think he is declining prematurely.