It is not quite July yet, but trade rumor season is underway. JP Morosi of MLB Network threw out a couple of tweets this morning, but then came back with a confirmed rumor tweet that linked Pittsburgh and Texas on trade talks.
Andrew McCutchen was on my list of outfielders I wanted to see the Rangers sign in the offseason. He is not the MVP Cutch that he was for Pittsburgh earlier in his career. He is a solid veteran presence in the lineup and in the clubhouse. He also did play for Bruce Bochy in San Francisco. McCutchen has been primarily playing DH for Pittsburgh and would continue that in Texas. McCutchen is hitting .271 with a .825 OPS. He has nine home runs, and 24 RBIs, with nine stolen bases.
The more valuable piece to the trade is the pitcher that Texas would acquire in this trade. Morosi did not identify the pitcher Texas would want, but ideally it would be David Bednar. He has 15 saves, a 1.50 ERA, and 34 strikeouts in 30 innings. He would immediately make the Rangers' bullpen significantly better because he would allow Will Smith to move into a more flexible role and give the Rangers a dominant closer they need to make a run in October. Bednar also comes with years of control. The 28-year old reliever will not be a free agent till after the 2026 season.
The cost in prospects to get McCutchen and Bednar would likely be significant, but not prohibitive. I would imagine that it would be 3-4 prospects. I think the Pirates are going to want prospects that are not years away. They are trying to exit this rebuild soon. It would have to be players on a similar timeline to these top draft picks they have been making the last 2-3 seasons. The Pirates just recently promoted Henry Davis, their 2021 first-round pick to the majors. Shortstop Oneil Cruz will be back healthy later this season. They have a young ace in Mitch Keller. They have the foundations of a good team in the future. They just need more depth.
Texas and Pittsburgh match up well in this situation because of the Rangers' prospect depth in the upper minors. Players like Justin Foscue, Dustin Harris, and a pitcher might be able to get it done. Keep an eye on these two teams as we go into July and enter into trade rumor season. There have been conversations as confirmed by JP Morosi and will likely continue to be discussions if and when the Pirates decide to punt on 2023.