Andrew McCutchen scratched from Pirates’ starting lineup

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Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that the Pirates have scratched center fielder Andrew McCutchen from their starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Astros because of soreness in his right knee.

Starling Marte will slide over to center, Travis Snider will play left field and Garrett Jones will get the start in right. Gaby Sanchez is at first base.

The Pirates have not addressed the severity of McCutchen’s knee soreness, but he was in the lineup initially so that would suggest that the decision to hold him out was more precautionary than anything.

McCutchen, 26, is batting .281/.348/.469 with six homers, nine steals and 23 RBI in 42 games.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.