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The Giants would probably love to trade for Andrew McCutchen, but ...

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Giants would probably be interested in a trade, but other teams will offer up better prospects.

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Ken Rosenthal doesn’t mince words in his lede about Andrew McCutchen here.

Of all the big names available in trade, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen might be the most likely to go.

It would be the end of an era, or at least the start of a new chapter in the book about the Pirates’ renaissance. Or maybe it’s a sea chanty instead of a book. Either way, McCutchen is the Buster Posey of Pittsburgh, right down to the MVP, and it makes me sad that the Pirates are likely to trade him.

Sad and greedy. So, so greedy.

Point of order: McCutchen is, perhaps, my very favorite baseball player not on the Giants. When he’s right, he’s a gliding, effortless, baseball dynamo. It doesn’t hurt that he plays like he really, desperately enjoys baseball. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the same size as the baseball players I grew up with, the kind that made me think I coulda gone pro with just a few more reps in the weight room and infinitely more talent.

Counterpoint of order: McCutchen was really bad last year, and he won’t be cheap, not necessarily in financial terms, but in the talent it would take to acquire him. You might hate this idea from the very start. It is entirely reasonable to prefer Denard Span as a defensive center fielder at this point, which gives you an idea of where McCutchen’s defense was last year. The eyeball test confirmed it, too.

Still, look at his WAR over the years:

2011: 5.7 (age 24)
2012: 7.0 (age 25)
2013: 8.1 (age 26)
2014: 6.3 (age 27)
2015: 4.9 (age 28)
2016 -0.7 (age 29)

You call it the deepest red of red flags. I call it an outlier. Unless some high-res images reveal that, mercy, McCutchen played last season without thumbs, I’m willing to believe in the 2015 version. That would be an All-Star, not an MVP.

McCutchen is under contract for next season for a reasonable $14 million, with a $14.75 million option after that. The Pirates want to trade him, though, because they a) aren’t likely to re-sign him beyond 2018, and b) know that one more replacement-level season would move his trade value from “substantial” to “Nick Markakis.” They’re in the final round of a game show, and they can walk away with $500,000 or try for the cool million, but they’ll win nothing if they get the million-dollar question wrong.

McCutchen in the outfield for the Giants? Gawrsh, I tear up just thinking about it. Can I ... no, I shouldn’t ... oh, man, it’s so tacky ... well, heck, I can’t help it, LET’S DO THAT FAKE LINEUP THING:

  1. Denard Span
  2. Andrew McCutchen
  3. Buster Posey
  4. Brandon Belt
  5. Hunter Pence
  6. Brandon Crawford
  7. Eduardo Nuñez
  8. Joe Panik

It works a lot better if you use 2014 stats, really, which might be a sign that the Giants should go in a different direction. You can also get greedy with Justin Turner instead of Nuñez if you’re in the mood.

I’m not going to lie: I already have a CSI-type teleplay written for a network pilot, except it’s in space, written specifically for Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen as the leads. This would fit my career perfectly.

However, we’re at the bucket of cold water, the slimy reality at the end of every offseason post. The Giants don’t have the prospects, not like the other teams. It would take Panik (who looks like a risky sell-low player to other teams, remember) and several prospects. And that’s before you get to the part where the Pirates might still prefer what another team is offering. This isn’t going to be a Kyle Crick-and-see-what-sticks kind of trade package.

If the Giants had just one top-50 guy, one of the premium prospects who could beguile a scouting director on the other side, I could see it. But then you would want to keep that guy, and we would be right back at the beginning. Even if McCutchen makes sense with the Giants from a needs perspective, it just doesn’t make sense in any practical way.

So it’s not going to happen, but the only fun thing about the offseason is when you get to dream a bit.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. That’s the stuff. But if J.D. Martinez is something of a longshot, you’d better believe a youngish former MVP is out of the question.


[opens latest issue of McCrushin’ and stares at pages and pages of photos]