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Andrew McCutchen trade only makes sense on one unlikely occasion

Does a trade to the Rangers make sense?

Pittsburgh Pirates v Miami Marlins Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Andrew McCutchen’s return to Pittsburgh was a dream made reality. A beloved Pittsburgh icon. The face of the franchise. A generation’s favorite player and connection to baseball.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Morosi, McCutchen could be taken away from Pittsburgh once again.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are likely sellers to Morosi and broached the question of who could be traded at the August 1 deadline. He tweeted Monday afternoon that McCutchen, 36, is having his best offensive season since 2015 - not coincidentally the last time the Bucs made the playoffs - and has never played in a World Series. One potential option? “A summer trade and winter reunion.”

McCutchen is a borderline Hall of Famer, and a World Series ring would not make him leaps and bounds a more acceptable contender, but likely improve his case. Morosi confirmed the Texas Rangers have expressed interest in Cutch, who would DH for the AL West leaders, but the Pirates are not prepared to make a move yet.

The Rangers also would like to acquire one pitcher in the deal as well if it were to get done.

Andrew McCutchen IS Pittsburgh. There has been no indication on any front that the Pirates would trade arguably their best hitter with Bryan Reynolds on the injured list. McCutchen’s continuously stated how comforting and enjoyable it is to be home in Pittsburgh and play in front of the PNC Park crowd, which he said helps elevate his game.

Through 66 games, McCutchen owns a .271/.394/.431 slash line with nine home runs and doubles plus 24 RBIs. Since rejoining the Pirates, McCutchen has surpassed 2,000 career hits, 400 doubles, is four total bases away from 3,400, and four home runs from 300.

The only logical reason the Pirates would trade McCutchen is if he requested it, wanted to win a championship on a contender, and resigned with the team in the winter. Does it make sense to an extent? Maybe 22 percent to see one of the most beloved Pirates in history win a championship, but unless he wants it, a deal doesn’t make sense.

McCutchen is more valuable to the Pirates as a leader for Henry Davis, Nick Gonzales, Ji Hwan Bae, Jack Suwinski, and eventually Endy Rodriguez and others than anything they could get back for him.

Dealing No. 22 doesn’t make sense from a leadership, clubhouse or baseball perspective. He’s not taking at-bats away from anyone in particular who’s earned them, especially with Suwinski, Bae and Castro continuing to falter.

If the Pirates trade McCutchen, is there any chance fans will stick around and continue to support the team? It took until McCutchen RETURNED for many Pirates fans to express serious interest in the team and return back to PNC Park. Dealing him away may be the final nail in the coffin for supporters (probably until a playoff game comes around).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pirates writer Jason Mackey explained his belief that McCutchen will stay and stated, “he’s a Pirate for as long as he wants… they knew [with a] reunion they couldn’t trade him.”

Mackey also reiterated McCutchen’s previous statements in rejoining the Pirates that “it’s everything I’ve wanted” and “I don’t want to continue my career on another team.”

When the Pirates played in Seattle, the site of the 2023 MLB All-Star Game - in which McCutchen has clinched a spot five times - he explained he wants to return in 2024. Connecting the dots, McCutchen wants to stay in Pittsburgh and never put on a different uniform than the Black and Gold ever again.

Information gets out if someone wants it out. There’s no reason to believe the McCutchen camp would leak this. In the midst of losing 12 of their last 13, why would the Pirates do it? The suddenness of the rumor with over a month to the deadline is also puzzling, painting the Bucs in an even more negative light than before.

The Rangers are likely playing the market. Trying to throw something at the wall and see if anything sticks. Does this mean we should be on McCutchen watch the next month? Probably not. If the slide continues, Rich Hill and Carlos Santana are highly likely to be gone, but the case is different surrounding McCutchen.

Cutch and Pittsburgh is an emotional relationship that needs each other. A trade isn’t going to be halted because of that, but even more so due to his impact on young players and his high production level. A McCutchen trade would be shocking and be a telling sign of where the organization truly sees itself headline in the next year.