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.

Report: Angels and Anthony Rendon agree on seven-year, $245 million contract

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Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.

Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.

The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.

Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.