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Andrew McCutchen could be traded to the Washington Nationals as early as today

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As reported for the past couple of days, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been shopping outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Somewhat aggressively, in fact, to the point where they’re calling other teams to see if a deal can be done. Now, it seems, a deal is getting closer.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Pirates and Washington Nationals have “ramped up” discussions about a McCutchen trade, with the Nationals pushing to make a deal today, given tomorrow’s non-tender deadline. Time is of the essence because, if they acquired McCutchen, he’d play center field, Trea Turner would be moved to shortstop and current shortstop Danny Espinosa would be non-tendered. If a deal is not done before tomorrow, Washington would be more inclined to tender Espinosa a contract.

It seems nuts that the Pirates would trade the guy who won an MVP Award in 2013 and who has been the face of their franchise for many years. Yes, he had a down year in 2016, but he is under contract through next season at a quite reasonable $14 million and the team has a club option on him for 2018 worth $14.5 million. To deal him now suggests that Pittsburgh believes 2016 was more than just a fluke. That would be fine in a baseball sense if they can get a huge package in return, but even if they do, it has to be demoralizing for Pirates fans to see what can only look like a premature teardown of a club that made the playoffs for three straight years before 2016.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.