PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – In the next month, you will hear it all.
This guy is getting traded. That guy is getting traded. This guy is getting traded for that guy. This guy and that guy are getting traded for prospects. This guy and prospects are getting traded for that guy and a player to be named later and that guy.
And so on.
You will hear all the speculation as baseball nears the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.
Pirates fans will hear a lot about Andrew McCutchen. A whole lot.
Pirates fans probably will hear a lot about Gerrit Cole — perhaps not as much as about McCutchen, but there will be scuttlebutt and gossip, to be sure.
I have an idea for the Pirates … make a decision one way or the other. A full decision, a dedicated decision, a devoted and steadfast pronouncement about the future using these two men as the vortex.
That is to say, either trade both McCutchen and Cole (which I personally don’t prefer) for legitimate prospects who can help you in a few years or approach both McCutchen and Cole about serious, long-term deals to keep them in Pittsburgh (which I do prefer).
Yes, indeed, join these men in a decision because, truth be told, if you trade McCutchen or Cole, you might as well just go ahead with a total revamping of the organization and move the target date back a few seasons as to when this team can truly contend again.
If you are the Pirates and are on the fence about trading one of them, what are the negatives about approaching both of them and trying to sign them to genuine, market value long-term deals to certify that they are a few of the cornerstones you want to build around?
Yes, all or nothing. Don’t try to live in both worlds. Either tear this thing down in a way the Houston Astros did not all that long ago or commit to a couple of guys who have been perhaps your best starting pitcher and best position player in the recent past.
Will McCutchen — who has a club option on his contract for next season and would be a free agent for 2019 — listen to a fair offer from the Pirates? My gut tells me he would. After the down season he had last year, McCutchen understands his value won’t skyrocket the way it was once projected to, but he has to also understand (as should the Pirates) he is one of the top two outfielders they have. If the Pirates are truly committed to making this organization better and going for it now, they should start with a four-year, $72 million extension offer and see what McCutchen says. That works out to $18 million per season and would keep him in Pittsburgh until he’s 35.
For me, that’s fair for both sides.
Cole is a trickier case as he has arbitration years in both 2018 and ’19 before becoming a free agent for 2020. He’s making $3.75 million this season but that number is sure to greatly spike both this and next year.
Would a Scott Boras client accept a long-term offer from the Pirates at this juncture? It’s unlikely, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility if ownership stepped up and made a proposal that made them happy.
Why not do this if, as everyone from top on down with the Pirates always says, they are truly committed to winning right now and in the immediate years to come.
If not, with Cole pitching very well right now, maximize trade value and put him on the block. There might not be a time where teams pay more (in prospect value) than right now for Gerrit Cole.
The Pirates need to pick a side as this deadline approaches. And they need to commit to it. They need to trade both McCutchen and Cole or get serious about trying to keep both of them around.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.