Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Pirates are “almost certain” to trade All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Passan notes that the Pirates have been calling teams to negotiate a potential trade rather than sitting back and accepting calls.
In the event McCutchen is dealt, Starling Marte would likely move to center field and Gregory Polanco would switch to left field with prospect Austin Meadows eventually taking over in right field.
McCutchen, 30, is under contract through at least next season at $14 million. He has a club option for 2018 worth $14.5 million with a $1 million buyout. The 2013 National League MVP Award winner had a relatively down year in 2016, finishing with a .256/.336/.430 triple-slash line with 24 home runs, 79 RBI, 81 runs scored, and only six stolen bases in 675 plate appearances. One-year flukes happen, however, and at $15 million for at least next season, the Pirates should still draw plenty of interest in McCutchen.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.
A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.
Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.