Andrew McCutchen #22 greets manager Clint Hurdle #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates prior to their National League Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on October 1, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)
In about 96 percent of his games as Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle has written Andrew McCutchen's name on the lineup card.
Hurdle might not have that luxury much longer.
Less than three weeks before MLB's winter meetings, there are signs the Pirates are ready to trade their star center fielder. At the recent general managers meetings, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington indicated other clubs have inquired about McCutchen.
On Wednesday, Hurdle told the Tribune-Review he isn't certain how much longer McCutchen will remain in Pittsburgh.
“I'll take it one day at a time,” Hurdle said. “I think any general manager that's in a market similar to the one we're in has to explore the possibility of (trading) players who have one or two years left on their contracts. You have to see what value is there to keep or to move.
“That's the way we're going to need to continue to operate. It's the hard part of what we get to do.”
McCutchen, who is on vacation in Hawaii, was unavailable for comment.
“Andrew has been very black and white in the conversations I've had with him,” Hurdle said. “He's told me, ‘I'm under contract here, so I plan on playing here. However, I don't call all the shots, either.' ”
Before the 2012 season, McCutchen sighed a six-year, $51.5 million contract extension. The deal will pay him $14 million in 2017 and includes a $14.75 million club option for 2018.
McCutchen, 30, has said he wants to end his career with the Pirates. However, the team has not approached him about another long-term extension.
“When you pay a player (when he's) 37 or 38 years old, it's hard,” Hurdle said. “We did a bunch of research on contracts of four or more years, the risk versus the reward. There are not many that end up well. That's history. Those are facts.”
McCutchen was an established big leaguer when Hurdle was hired before the 2011 season. Two years later, McCutchen blossomed into the National League MVP.
Last season, however, McCutchen struggled. His .256 batting average and .766 OPS were career lows. Over the past three years, he has battled rib, knee and thumb injuries.
“Andrew is a special man. He's been a special player,” Hurdle said. “That's the one thing that you continue to honor as you continue to plan. He's here until he's not here, in my mind.”
In 2004, Hurdle managed in Colorado when the Rockies traded popular slugger Larry Walker to the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, Walker had one year left on a $76 million contract.
“It was a hard day when I called Larry Walker in and told him we'd moved him,” Hurdle said. “It worked out well for Walker. He got to go to the playoffs with the Cardinals. I don't even remember the players we got from St. Louis, so I don't think that worked out so good.”
To get Walker, St. Louis parted with Jason Burch, Luis Martinez and Chris Narveson. None of those three ever pitched an inning for the Rockies.
“The money side of it, I'm sure, helped,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes, these things have a way of taking care of themselves for both sides.”