Sometimes on Saturday morning's "Nats Talk" on MASN, Mike Wallace and I will throw out names that we'd like to see in a Washington uniform, even though it's simply wishful thinking. A few weeks ago we threw out the name Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, an incredibly gifted center fielder and hitter, who at 25, is not yet in his prime, and who, from all appearances, is Pittsburgh's face-of-the-franchise. The Pirates dealing McCutchen? No way.
You've heard the old expression "never say never?" Yesterday on MLB Radio, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said just that. Those exact words. "Never say never," when asked if he'd trade No. 22. The Bucco exec went on to say "... If someone wants to back up the truck and give us one of those organization-altering deals, it's something that we'd have to listen to ... it would have to be a dramatic overpay on the part of the other club."
Stunning, really, though I guess you'd have to define what a "stunning overpay" really is. A lot of folks in baseball think Mike Rizzo overpaid for Gio Gonzalez, but was it in the "stunning" category? The Pirates need a lot to become a real player in the National League Central, and the Washington farm system is loaded, but are we talking trading established big leaguers or prospects? Therein lies the true potential of such a deal.
I doubt the Pirates deal McCutchen - their fan base would revolt, to be sure - but unpopular deals have been made before. About 60 years ago the Pirates sent their most popular player, slugger Ralph Kiner, to the Cubs in a four-for-six player deal. Kiner had led the NL in home runs the previous seven seasons, but as GM Branch Rickey famously told him, "We finished last with you, we can finish last without you."
It's not 1953 anymore, but the Pirates are now 19 seasons deep in losing records. Maybe Rickey's influence still lingers in the air in the Steel City.