UPDATE: Pirates haven’t entertained offers for Andrew McCutchen

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UPDATE: That was fun while it lasted. According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a high-ranking team official said the Pirates have not entertained trade offers for McCutchen and have no intention of doing so.

6:50 PM: Andrew McCutchen, who made his first All-Star team before slipping in the second half of last season, is potentially available in trade talks, a source told ESPN’s Keith Law.

McCutchen just turned 25 in October and is four years away from free agency, so there’s certainly no pressure for the Pirates to move him now. It should also be noted that Law’s report doesn’t indicate that the Pirates are shopping him, just that they’d listen to offers.

Even that idea, though, would have seemed far fetched a few months ago. One factor influencing the Pirates here is that they’ve tried and failed a couple of times to lock up McCutchen to a long-term deal. Also, McCutchen’s overall lack of growth since he entered the league is somewhat disturbing. While McCutchen has added power, he’s no better of a player now than he was in a rookie. His strikeout rate took a big jump last season (from 89 strikeouts in 653 plate appearances in 2010 to 126 in 678 plate appearances), and he hasn’t proven to be much better than an average defensive center fielder.

It’s still doubtful the Pirates would trade him, but if someone is willing to make a big offer, they might bite. Washington would seem like an obvious candidate there. If the Nationals would start with right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and add a couple of prospects, that’d be a pretty attractive proposal.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.