Winter Meetings Preview

The time has come for the MLB Winter Meetings. The North Shore Nine will be on site at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Maryland this week to bring you all the latest Pirates happenings, signings and trade talks.

If you’re unaware of what the Winter Meetings are, it’s basically four days of GMs, team executives, reporters, agents, managers and many others all hanging out in a hotel and holding various meetings during the day. With all the GMs in one place, it becomes a catalyst for a flurry of trades. You can actually hang out in the lobby and nearly hear trade rumors bouncing around the room.

So what can we expect from the Pirates at the Winter Meetings?

Everything hinges on Andrew McCutchen. If the Pirates do trade McCutchen, it’s very likely that it will go down during the Winter Meetings. Decisions like will the Pirates have to sign a starting pitcher or two (someone like a Derek Holland) will all be on hold until we know what’s happening with McCutchen. If the Pirates are able to deal Cutch for a SP or two, their rotation may be set and free agency will not be needed. But reports are already out that if the Pirates don’t find their dream package for Cutch, they will hold onto him with a year and an option still on his contract.

Just a couple days ago, the Pirates were reported to being close to a deal with the Nationals that involved Cutch and a package of Victor Robles, Lucas Giolito and/or Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez. Talks have died down for now, but expect it to heat up again at the Winter Meetings. And don’t count out another team—Indians, Dodgers, Giants—stepping up to get involved in the talks. Teams see McCutchen as a bargain at $14M in 2017 and a team option for ’18 as well. All in all, I think we’ll see McCutchen being dealt this week.

Besides the McCutchen news, who else might we see dealt this week? I’d say either RPs Tony Watson or Antonio Bastardo. The Pirates currently have four lefties on their roster that would be in the pen, and that’s unlikely to remain the case. Someone will most likely go and I’m hoping it’s Bastardo. While the return for Watson would most likely be higher, Bastardo is set to make $6.625M next season and he’s not exactly coming off his best year ever (4.52 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 4.3 BB/9). Expect the talks to heat up for one of these relievers.

And then there’s JHay. Harrison’s role on the team next year is a little murky consider Alen Hanson is out of options and Adam Frazier is ready to play everyday at hitting .301/.356/.411 in 160 plate appearances in 2016. Harrison could return to his utility role or stick at second, where he actually provided a solid glove there. If the McCutchen does not end up going down, the Pirates could shop Harrison for a starting pitcher as a backup plan but obviously it would be for a backend SP for the rotation instead of what Cutch could hopefully bring in.

At any rate, I think we’ll see the Pirates active in trading more so than this thin free agent market. The Pirates are basically set in the infield, at catcher and in the outfield even if Cutch is dealt or not. They won’t have to add much through free agency.

Check the site daily as we’ll have updates up throughout the week, but follow us on Twitter @NorthShoreNine to find the latest news as soon as it happens and any rumors we hear around the lobby floor during the Winter Meetings. If you’re going to meetings as well, get at us on Twitter and we can meet up. We’ll also be recording multiple podcasts this week to break down every move and rumor. Get ready for some wheeling and dealing at the National Harbor!

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