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Ask BD: Could the Indians attempt an Andrew McCutchen trade?

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Thanks, all, for your questions. Feel free to keep them coming. Here’s the first round of answers.

YTownBucsFan: I’m from the Youngstown area, so there are a lot of Indians fans over here. I am hearing a lot of "maybe the Indians should get Andrew McCutchen" talk. Do the Indians look like a good fit for us? Them? Who would we ask for? A young pitcher in their rotation perhaps?

McCutchen isn’t a bad fit for the Indians, who have a huge question mark in left field (Michael Brantley) and two left-handed bats at the other two positions (Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall). All three of those players do project as starters, though, and McCutchen also wouldn’t address the team’s likely desire to improve their outfield defense. So unless Brantley’s medical outlook is very, very bad (which is possible), or the Pirates want Naquin in return for McCutchen (again, possible, but a little weird, since they have Austin Meadows waiting in the wings), it’s hard to say McCutchen is a good fit. Also, the Indians already project to have a payroll next season that will be high for them. They’re worth keeping an eye on, but they don’t jump out at me as the Pirates’ most obvious trade partner.

Life of the Marte: With the lack of starting pitchers available, do you envision the Bucs attempting to move Juan Nicasio back into the rotation?

No. Last season, they moved Nicasio to the bullpen while keeping Jeff Locke in the rotation. That tells you most of what you need to know about their thoughts about Nicasio as a starter.

BenjaminPGlaser: The free agent market seems to get worse every year. New trend?

Yes. Players don’t age as gracefully as they once did (likely because of the PED crackdown, the new breed of hard-throwing relievers, and teams becoming increasingly aware of how best to use players defensively). That means free agents, who tend to be older players, are weaker now than they once were. Also, the relatively new trend of pre-free agency extensions delays young players’ free agency eligibility. Had McCutchen not signed his current extension, for example, he would have been eligible for free agency following the 2015 season. Think of what a tantalizing free agent he would have been then compared to how he’s going to look following the 2018 season.

All these factors make the offseason more boring than it used to be. But the lack of talent available most winters is actually a boon for the Pirates, who aren’t a big factor in that market anyway.

Grumbly1: Which Pirates starters will be "qualified" in 2017 (i.e. minimum of 162 IPs)?

Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. That’s only two, and even that seems a bit hopeful, since we don’t know exactly how Cole’s elbow will hold up. But it would still be a huge improvement over last year, when Locke led the Pirates’ staff with 127.1 innings. Chad Kuhl is a possibility to pitch 162 as well.

2010 will be the year: Favorite holiday?

Easter, because spring is my favorite time of the year. I think that’s one of the reasons I like baseball so much as well. Also, my family does a really complex egg hunt each year.

Zadoras: What will the Pirates’ Opening Day lineup be in 2018?

I’ll assume the Pirates will face a righty.

Josh Bell 1B
Starling Marte CF
Gregory Polanco RF
Jung Ho Kang 3B
Austin Meadows LF
Josh Harrison 2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Jordy Mercer SS
Jameson Taillon P

Kevin Newman, who could eventually replace Mercer, could eventually become a leadoff guy, but he has limited experience in the high minors and might not be up for good until the middle of the 2018 season. Mercer will be in his last year of control in 2018, so it makes sense to assume he’ll play. Harrison will be under contract as well. I’m assuming here that Bell doesn’t have a wild power outburst next season. If he does, he could move down in the lineup.

Grumbly1: Boring but legit trade question: Harrison and Trevor Williams to Angels for Ricky Nolasco – who says no?

That’s an interesting idea — the Angels need a second baseman, and the Pirates need an established starting pitcher. I bet on the Angels putting the phone down, though. They have a ton of injury uncertainty in their rotation and can use Nolasco, particularly since he threw nearly 200 solid innings last year. The Angels have money to spend and would probably figure they could fill their second base hole some other way.