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.