The Pirates turned down acquiring elite prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez from the Nationals for OF Andrew McCutchen, former GM and current SiriusXM host Jim Bowden said Dec. 9.
The Nationals also offered Giolito and Lopez in a deal for Chris Sale, among other prospects, before sending them to the White Sox for OF Adam Eaton.
In addition to the Nationals, the Rangers, Dodgers, Mariners and an unidentified team all recently asked Pittsburgh about McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors.
"We took calls. We listened. We engaged," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said before leaving the Baseball Winter Meetings. "Obviously, we felt the right move was to hold the player and have him continue to help us win a lot of games ... We expected Andrew to be a Pirate. We feel great about Andrew being a Pirate."
So far there's no evidence that Sandy Alderson is looking for a new outfielder, but he should be. In addition to a top prospect, the Pirates have been wanting at least one established, young, controllable starting pitcher in a deal for McCutchen, according to MLB insiders.
For example, to get him, I've heard the Mets would not need to deal an outfielder, such as Michael Conforto. Instead, Pittsburgh will most likely want LHP Steven Matz and SS prospect Amed Rosario. Of course that projected price was before Eaton went to the Nationals. So, it's possible that McCutchen's cost will go down if Washington is no longer an option. The Pirates could always pull McCutchen back, start him in the outfield on Opening Day, hope he rebounds and then look to trade him during the season.
However, they may also be feeling pressure to make a move, especially since his name is all over the rumor mill. Frankly, it's all Pirates fans and media are focused on, and all McCutchen will be asked about during spring training. So there's reason to move him now, get it over with and move on. If that's Pittsburgh's thinking and if they're committed to moving him, the Mets should be involved.