Andrew McCutchen seemed like the most obvious trade candidate among former MVPs and superstars shopped this offseason. Now into mid-December, and after the Winter Meetings, he remains with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was also reported today that it’s very likely he won’t get traded at all. Many potential trades are dead and I wonder if the asking price was too high.
The most likely destination for McCutchen had been the Washington Nationals. Instead, they got Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox. They didn't get Eaton for much of a bargain either as Lucas Giolito and several other notable prospects were included. A conclusion I draw from this is that the Pirates were asking for too much or Washington wanted Eaton that much more. I'm more inclined to believe the latter.
Was a high asking price the reason Andrew McCutchen was never traded?
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Perhaps Pittsburgh didn't factor in McCutchen's poor 2016 in trade negotiations. After all, the Nationals did value Eaton highly and a lot had to do with the way he played last year. I vehemently believe the Pirates thought someone would pay big for McCutchen. They failed to realize teams had a lot of other options available to them. Even now there are guys coming off better seasons who could have more value than McCutchen.
This still doesn't mean McCutchen starts 2017 with the Pirates. A fluke injury or a change of direction for a franchise could make McCutchen a target. For now, he'll remain with Pittsburgh until another team pays the price. The Pirates have no immediate need to move him. However, when push comes to shove, I do think they’ll have to move on from the guy who was once the face of their franchise.
Coming off a career year with the Chicago Cubs where he walked away with a World Series ring at the end of it all, Dexter Fowler has gotten himself a near contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. Or at least this is the case if Fowler passes his physical.
For the second straight year an outfielder of prominence will go from one National League Central rival to the other. Last winter it was Jason Heyward signing a mega-deal with the Cubs to fill this quota. This offseason it’s a lesser deal for Fowler, but still an important one.
The Cubs barely made an effort in keeping Fowler. Other than issuing the qualifying offer, the Cubs seemed to have very little intent on bringing Fowler back. A big reason for this was a lack of playing time for all those deserving. The Cubs’ outfield is perfectly capable without Fowler. Meanwhile, the Cardinals needed some big repairs to their outfield with the most obvious one being the desire for a legitimate center fielder to help push Randal Grichuk into left field where he probably belonged all along.
Dexter Fowler is the newest member of the St. Louis Cardinals following a career year with the Chicago Cubs.
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Before signing Fowler, the Cardinals did their homework. Trades for Charlie Blackmon, Adam Eaton, and Marcell Ozuna highlighted possibilities. Instead, they went with Fowler in free agency and for some really good reasons.
Fowler will now become the Cardinals’ leadoff hitter. Had he stayed healthy in 2016, he would have most certainly set career highs even topping what he did in his earlier days with the Colorado Rockies. This would’ve made him a tougher get for St. Louis so they should be thankful that for all the good Fowler did that he did miss some time. Not exactly a huge stolen base threat, Fowler does have a 162 game average of 19. More importantly for a leadoff man, Fowler gets on base a lot. His .393 OBP last season was near the top of the MLB and a new best for a guy who has consistently picked up hits and walked regularly. It’s hard to really claim more than just a small handful of hitters are better in the leadoff spot than Fowler. He is easily among the best options any team can have at the top of their lineup.
The Cardinals, and their lack of speed, will add a good weapon to the roster. Rather than force Matt Carpenter into doing everything from playing first base to hitting out-of-place at number one, the Cardinals did the right thing and plugged in a missing part.
The best player from the Far East coming over to play in the MLB this season is...a California native. Within hours of releasing Chris Carter, the Milwaukee Brewers pulled the trigger on signing free agent slugger Eric Thames. Basically, they traded in a guy whose MLB talent is obvious for someone who is a little more mysterious. The Brewers chose upside in this case as Thames might have the ability to hit with a little more contact than the guy he's essentially replacing.
Thames has played in the MLB before. He didn't exactly light the world on fire, but his .250/.296/.431 slash line is comparable to what Carter would likely do. In 181 games, Thames also hit 21 home runs in the early part of this decade before moving to Korea to become a well-known slugger.
The last two years for Thames were spent in the KBO, absolutely smashing baseballs. He hit 47 home runs with a .381 batting average in 2015. In 2016, he hit another 40 home runs with a .317 batting average. The league is known to favor offense over pitching anyway so don't be shocked when Thames suddenly seems to lose a bit of his home run stroke.
Nevertheless, hitting that many singers in any league requires a second look. Thames can offer Milwaukee a little more flexibility too as his primary position is in the corner outfield spots. This still won't stop them from using him at first base regularly unless, of course, they end up signing someone else for the position.
Slugger Eric Thames signed a three-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers less than 24 hours after they released Chris Carter.
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I'm almost surprised another team didn't take a chance on Thames. His deal is worth $16 million over three years with a nice possible bonus in a fourth year worth $7.5 million. Thames must play his way into getting that motherload as the Brewers were very cautious with the amount of money they've committed to him. Maybe this overpayment in terms of years and dollars for a guy who has not performed at this level, having struggled here somewhat, is what landed him with the Brewers rather than another squad in search of major power.
I do like the move, though. Thames is probably going to need a year to adjust to the better pitching over here anyway. The Brewers, with an automatic finish near the bottom of the division, can allow him time to adjust. Where he goes from there, I'm not quite sure. Hopefully for the sake of Milwaukee baseball, this time around has better results.