Rosenthal says the chances of a deal are “probably good” because the Pirates are 33-38, third in the NL Central and 11 games back in the wild-card race, which is a worse situation than they were in last year when they in contention and decided to deal reliever Mark Melancon and starter Francisco Liriano. After those deals, the Pirates actually improved to the point where they were a half-game out of a playoff spot in late August before they faltered in September.
Plus, McCutchen — the former NL MVP — had been in a ton of trade talks in the offseason. The Dodgers, Nationals, Mariners, Rangers and Yankees were among the teams interested in the five-time All-Star who revived the Pirates, but was coming off his worst season in 2016 after hitting .256/.336/.430.
Sources close to the Pirates said to Rosenthal that they do not “intend to tear down” their team this year and that a McCutchen deal could help them. Though he struggled in the first two months of the year, McCutchen has been on fire lately, slashing .406/.466/.766 with six homers and 19 RBI in June. McCutchen, who has a career .291/.379/.488 slash line, is eligible for free agency after this season, but does have a team option of $14.5 million for 2018, making any team contending for the playoffs considering him as a possible rental for the end of this year and next year if he plays well down the stretch.