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Nationals trying to trade for both Andrew McCutchen and Chris Sale

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In case you missed your daily dose of Andrew McCutchen rumors, the Nationals are trying to trade for both McCutchen and Chris Sale, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

It isn’t news that the Nationals are interested in McCutchen. The new wrinkle here is that they’re trying to trade for not one but two superstars, which sounds like it would mean they’re willing to pretty much empty their farm system. Both McCutchen and Sale are big assets who should command big prospect costs. The Pirates have been linked to top outfield prospect Victor Robles, as well as young pitchers Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez.

In today’s other rumors, the Pirates appear open to trading a left-handed reliever, most likely Antonio Bastardo, according to Bill Brink. The Pirates have reportedly conveyed to interested teams that they’re willing to pay part of Bastardo’s salary to facilitate a deal.

I’m tempted to tie the Bastardo rumors to what’s been the overarching theme of the offseason so far — that the Pirates just don’t have any money. And maybe that’s all it is. With Tony Watson at closer, Bastardo should effectively be the bullpen’s second lefty behind Felipe Rivero, so there’s a clear role for him, and that’s before considering that the Pirates don’t typically use their lefties as LOOGYs anyway.

The Pirates might actually feel, though, that Wade LeBlanc is a better fit than Bastardo, and maybe it’s incidental that LeBlanc is a lot cheaper. Probably not, but maybe. LeBlanc’s stuff and pedigree aren’t as good as Bastardo’s, but LeBlanc was quietly good for the Pirates down the stretch, and Steamer actually thinks LeBlanc will be slightly than Bastardo next season, mostly because his control is better. It’s also possible having four potential bullpen lefties will give the Pirates the depth they need to trade Watson, who is a free agent after the season.

Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into the LeBlanc move, which didn’t seem overly significant and still might turn out not to be. Expect to hear more rumors involving Bastardo and Watson as the offseason unfolds, however.