Ron Cook wonders whether Andrew McCutchen’s relationship with the Pirates is permanently scarred.
There was an effort last offseason to explore whether the two sides could navigate their way to a very elusive middle ground, with each side extending itself to an uncomfortable place. To get to that place, the Pirates would have had to agree to pay McCutchen far more than a small-market team should commit to one player, in percentage of payroll, and McCutchen would’ve had to accept far less than what his market value might be after the 2018 season.
The effort was made, and the player and team could not find a delicate middle ground. Business is business. Now the two sides will move steadily toward that time when McCutchen moves on to another team. If it doesn’t happen this winter, it’ll probably happen next July or next winter, because small-market teams like the Pirates do not have access to talent in the way big-market teams do, and Pittsburgh would have to sacrifice player value in keeping McCutchen all the way to the time when he can walk out as a free agent after 2018.