Andrew McCutchen returns to Pittsburgh

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The San Francisco Giants head to PNC Park to face the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend. It’ll be the first time Andrew McCutchen returns to Pittsburgh as a visitor. You have to figure he’ll get a pretty warm reception when he comes to the plate for the first time.

McCutchen, of course, starred for the Pirates for the first nine seasons of his career, winning the NL MVP Award in 2013 and, arguably, putting up a better season the following year when he came in third in the voting. He was, without question, the face of the franchise and a quite likable one at that while he wore the black and gold. The dude loved Pittsburgh so much he named his son, born last fall, Steel.

While a lot of former stars return to boos, it wasn’t like McCutchen chose to go. The Pirates traded him to the Giants on Jan. 15 for reliever Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds. It was not a popular deal among the Pirate fan base, who saw the trade as the biggest in a series of moves they perceived to be aimed more at cutting payroll and improving the team’s bottom line than in trying to build a winning Pirates team.

Not that the Pirates have been bad this year. They’re 21-16, a game out of first in the NL Central, and head into the series winners of three in a row and four of their last five. The Giants, meanwhile, who traded for McCutchen in a “win-now” move, are 19-19 and just dropped four in a row to the Phillies. The best laid plans, etc. etc.

NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic spoke to McCutchen about his return to the Steel City. He certainly sounds eager to return. As for the fans: it should be a nice moment when the P.A. announcer calls out his name.

Cubs to acquire Daniel Murphy from the Nationals

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The Chicago Cubs are going to acquire Daniel Murphy from the Washington Nationals. Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs will send back prospect Andruw Monasterio and a player to be named later in exchange. Craig Mish of Sirius XM was the first to report that the Cubs were the team that claimed Murphy off of waivers.

Murphy got off to a slow start this year coming off of major surgery but is hitting .300/.341/.442 on the season and has been particularly hot of late. Murphy is primarily a second baseman, of course, but he has played some first base too. The Cubs, at any rate, have a pretty flexible roster so they’ll likely be able to find a good amount of playing time for him at either position and, when he doesn’t start, he’ll be a great option off the bench.

Between this trade and the trade of Matt Adams to the Cardinals, the Nats have officially thrown in the towel on 2018.