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How do Giants, Mets match up for Cutch trade?

Reported suitors don't have deep prospect talent pool to deal from
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- For two months, the Giants' wide-ranging search for outfield help has kept the Andrew McCutchen trade rumor mill churning. But a new team entered the conversation Thursday night, when MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets have asked the Pirates about McCutchen for the second year in a row.

McCutchen would fill an obvious need for either the Mets or the Giants, the only clubs publicly linked to him so far in this slow-moving offseason, though Pittsburgh would not part with its franchise player simply for the sake of moving his salary. No transaction appeared to be imminent on Friday, but could either team really put together a deal that makes sense for the Pirates?

PITTSBURGH -- For two months, the Giants' wide-ranging search for outfield help has kept the Andrew McCutchen trade rumor mill churning. But a new team entered the conversation Thursday night, when MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets have asked the Pirates about McCutchen for the second year in a row.

McCutchen would fill an obvious need for either the Mets or the Giants, the only clubs publicly linked to him so far in this slow-moving offseason, though Pittsburgh would not part with its franchise player simply for the sake of moving his salary. No transaction appeared to be imminent on Friday, but could either team really put together a deal that makes sense for the Pirates?

Any move involving McCutchen would have to benefit the Bucs this year or, more likely, as they retool their roster to contend in 2019 and beyond. Last winter, they reportedly had an offer on the table that would have sent McCutchen to the Nationals for well-regarded pitchers Lucas Giolito and Dane Dunning and another prospect -- and the deal still didn't happen.

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Yes, McCutchen might have warranted a better return last offseason because his contract came with two seasons of control instead of the one year that now remains. But he was also coming off a down year, not the bounce-back campaign he put together in 2017.

Video: Morosi on McCutchen potentially being on the move

Despite a two-month slump to start the season, McCutchen slashed .279/.363/.486 with 28 home runs and 88 RBIs. He finished with zero Outs Above Average, according to Statcast™, a step forward after recording minus-11 in 2016. In other words, an interested club would be acquiring a middle-of-the-order hitter who can at least hold his own in center field -- and a charitable, marketable figure off the field.

His one-year, $14.5 million contract might be more appealing to clubs than the long-term deals requested by comparable free agents. But there would be a price set by the Pirates in the form of young, controllable talent.

Could either interested club meet it? They might have to get creative, as neither the Mets nor the Giants has a player currently ranked on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list.

According to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, the Pirates would want at least one of the Giants' top three prospects as ranked by MLB Pipeline: outfielder/first baseman Chris Shaw, right-hander Tyler Beede or 18-year-old outfielder Heliot Ramos.

Video: Top Prospects: Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants

Ramos, the Giants' first-round Draft pick last year, might have the highest upside of the group, but he is a long way from the Majors. He slashed .348/.404/.645 over 35 games last season in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Shaw and Beede, both former first-round picks, have reached Triple-A.

As for the Mets, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters at the Winter Meetings that his club's Minor League system "right now is not brimming with prospects." None of their top five prospects has played above Class A ball. They have a deep group of young starters, but their rotation is key to their hopes of contending in the National League East -- and nearly all of them come with a history of injuries.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Andrew McCutchen