NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Mets may be up to something.
According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, they recently spoke to the Pittsburgh Pirates about the availability of star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who is coming off a down year by his lofty standards.
McCutchen, 30, the 2013 National League MVP, put up good power numbers but saw his average (.256) and on-base percentage (.336) take a considerable nosedive last season, due in part to a variety of injuries. Still, he is a career .292 hitter with a .381 on-base percentage and has consistently been around a 25-homer, 80-RBI guy during his eight years in the majors.
A five-time All-Star, McCutchen will make $14 million in 2017, with the Pirates holding a $14.75 million option for 2018. He’d be a vast upgrade over Juan Lagares, who can go get the ball in center with the best of them, but leaves a lot to be desired at the plate.
The problem the Mets appear to have is they won’t make a trade for a high-priced, established star like McCutchen or sign a big-time free agent unless they move a burdensome contract or two out. It is believed that the team’s goal is to have a payroll of no more than $140 million next season.
Right now, the Mets have a glut of corner outfielders. After signing his huge deal, Yoenis Cespedes will start in left, and the organization is still very high on youngster Michael Conforto, who could see some time in both center and right in 2017. General manager Sandy Alderson has talked to some teams about potential trades involving Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, who are both in the final years of their contracts, but will make a combined $28 million in 2017.
McCutchen, who has finished in the top five in the MVP voting a total of four times, has 175 homers and 637 RBIs in 1,190 career games.