Pirates, Andrew McCutchen In Talks On Reunion

Pirates, Andrew McCutchen In Talks On Reunion

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Talks between the Pirates and Andrew McCutchen on a potential reunion have begun to accelerate, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A deal between the two sides could be completed by early next week.

A reunion between McCutchen and the Pirates has been seen as something of a formality for several months now. McCutchen returned to his original organization last year, signing a one-year deal worth $5MM to serve as the team’s designated hitter and a part-time outfielder. He told Mackey at the time of his signing that he hoped to finish his career back in Pittsburgh, which felt like home. Cutch reiterated his desire to play in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh only back in May, and after his season ended in early September with a partial tear of his Achilles, Pirates GM Ben Cherington said they hoped for a new deal and planned to talk with McCutchen this winter.

The now-37-year-old McCutchen is a franchise icon with the Pirates, who selected him with the 11th overall pick back in 2005 and watched him develop from one of the game’s top prospects, to a Rookie of the Year candidate, to a five-time All-Star and eventual National League MVP (2013). McCutchen signed a $51.5MM extension with the Bucs in 2012 but was traded after the team picked up an option for the seventh and final season of the deal — a swap that brought current cornerstone Bryan Reynolds to Pittsburgh.

After stops with the Giants, Yankees, Phillies and Brewers, McCutchen returned home last year and spoke often about his love of Pittsburgh and his desire to finish out his career there. It wasn’t all pure nostalgia, however, as the four-time Silver Slugger proved he still had life in his bat as well. McCutchen tallied 473 plate appearances and posted a .256/.378/.397 batting line, swatting a dozen homers, collecting 19 doubles and walking at a massive 15.9% clip.

The timing of McCutchen’s injury was particularly unfortunate, as it came on the cusp of a milestone. McCutchen sits at 299 career home runs — just one shy of becoming just the 160th player in MLB history to reach 300 home runs. The Pirates open the 2024 season on the road, so it’s possible that his milestone round-tripper could come away from the home fans, but regardless of where that historic long ball takes place, the fans at PNC Park will give McCutchen a hero’s welcome whenever he first takes the field again next season.

Assuming McCutchen resumes his role as a primary designated hitter, he’ll slot into a lineup with Reynolds and Jack Suwinski locked into outfield spots, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz on the left side of the infield, Henry Davis behind the plate and recently signed Rowdy Tellez at first base. The Pirates currently have a projected payroll of just $58MM, and re-signing McCutchen at or close to the same terms as last year would push that to $63MM. It’s not clear quite how high the team’s payroll will go, but Cherington said at this month’s Winter Meetings that the payroll will increase over last year’s $73MM mark.

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