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Storylines: Andrew McCutchen talks heating up between Pirates, Nationals

The Andrew McCutchen sweepstakes promise to be lively, though they could be over as soon as they started if the Nationals get their way...

Top Storylines

- Now that a new CBA deal has officially been agreed to, the hot stove rumors are once again sizzling.  The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves at the center of it all as there are strong indications that they are ready to trade fan-favorite and center fielder Andrew McCutchen.  Multiple reports have indicated that the Pirates are engaged in heavy trade dialogue with the Washington Nationals per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Things appear far enough down the line that the Nationals would want a deal done sooner than later in advance of the non-tender deadline so they can make a decision on the future of shortstop Danny Espinosa.  No trade has materialized though and despite those recent reports, the Pirates still may be talking to other teams about their star center fielder. McCutchen has gone through a bit of a decline both offensively and defensively over the past few years.  He started slow in both 2015 and 2016 but was able to recover and finish strong in 2015, but 2016 was a different story as he never quite got his feet under him and seemed a step behind.  He did finish the second half on a much higher note than he began but it seemed clear at that point he wasn’t the same phenomenon that debuted in 2009.  McCutchen is due $14MM in 2017 and has a $14.5MM team option in 2018 so he technically has two more years of control left.  While it is expensive, given the inflation of the market his contract is reasonable even for the lower-market teams. Should McCutchen get moved, the Pirates seem primed to put corner outfielder Starling Marte in center field, keep Gregory Polanco in left field and put top outfield prospect Austin Meadows in right field. The Pirates are reportedly targeting Nationals’ top outfield prosect Victor Robles in trade talks and also appear to be seeking a high-end starting pitching prospect.  Should the Nats land McCutchen, they would position him as the center fielder and move rookie sensation Trea Turner back to his original position at shortstop.  Right now though things appear very fluid and McCutchen could end up landing with another team.

Indians News

- The Cleveland Indians signed Michael Martinez and Erik Kratz to minor-league deals per a team announcement.  Martinez spent the bulk of last year with the Indians as he was used as a utility player off the bench.

Other Storylines

- The Seattle Mariners are nearing a two-year agreement with left-hander Marc Rzepcynski per Ken Rosenthal.  Rzepcynski spent last season between the Oakland Athletics and Nats and will now take his talents to Seattle where he will hopefully fill the void the Mariners have in their bullpen by lacking left-handed options.

- The Nats are apparently backing out on the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes and are instead focusing on resigning Mark Melancon per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.  Melancon was brilliant out the bullpen for the Nats after being acquired at the deadline from the Pirates and was reportedly a great presence in the clubhouse as well.  Keeping him appears to be a priority on their part but he will command a sizeable contract.

- Detroit Tigers lefty Justin Wilson is reportedly one of the most available players on the team for trade per Jon Morosi of MLB Network.  Wilson may bring back a good haul as there is a lack of elite left-handers on the market in the offseason thus far.

- The Atlanta Braves have acquired lefty Jaime Garcia from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league righties John Gant, Chris Ellis and infielder Lenny Dykstra per Mark Saxson of ESPN.  The Braves have been spending the early part of the offseason filling out their rotation with veteran arms as they’ve inked R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon to one-year deals.  Acquiring Garcia gives them another veteran arm but does not eliminate them from going out and getting a top pitcher such as Chris Sale, Chris Archer or Sonny Gray.

- Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang has been implicated in another off field incident as he was reportedly caught fleeing the scene after a DUI accident per Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News.  It represents the second serious allegation in a matter of months for the Korean infielder as he was accused of being part of a sexual assault back in the middle of the season.

- Free agent center fielder Dexter Fowler is reportedly seeking a nice payday in his second-straight year of free agency per Heyman.  Fowler has his sights reportedly set on an annual salary of $18MM and is drawing interest from the likes of the San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays and Cardinals.

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