Pittsburgh Pirates fans knew that doomsday would come. But they are still very pissed that ownership totally ignored their voices in eagerly and callously ridding the franchise of beloved five-time All-Star and former MVP and Gold Glove winning centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
In effect, moving him removed the glue of the intimate connection between baseball and the Pittsburgh community.
The Black Knight from Fort Meade, Florida – who spent the first nine years of his career transforming Pittsburgh from MLB’s Saigon and the losingest franchise in pro sports into potent World Series title contenders – was traded on Monday to the San Francisco Giants for right-hander Kyle Crick, minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds and $500,000 in international signing bonus allocation. Pittsburgh also pays $2.5 million in scratch to cover part of McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.
Now he’s “West Coast Cutch.”
Fans have gone as far as to start a Change.org petition for MLB to force Bob Nutting to sell the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Distinguished baseball writer Buster Olney describes McCutchen as “this generations Roberto Clemente,” for his elite baseball prowess and humanitarian works.
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Once the citys most celebrated sports star, McCutchens life has become somewhat of a cliche. Hes now in The Bay with a chip on his quiet shoulders and a bat axe to grind. His mission is to prove that the old adage is true; one mans burden is another man’s fortune.
Now…I’m a Giant!Ive always enjoyed watching the success of the @SFGiants and I look foward to being apart of more this season. Can’t wait to meet my new teammates and fans. This is just the beginning…
As McCutchen embarks on his next baseball journey, he expressed the impact that the city had on his career in a Players Tribune piece.
More from my heart about the city that shaped me re @PlayersTribune
“It’s no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup,” Brian Sabean, Giants executive vice president of baseball operations told reporters. “Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it.”
It shouldnt come as a shock that the Pirates traded the face of their franchise and the player that captivated the city with his community work, solid character, leadership and grace. Ever since the Pirates missed their World Series window, which was from 2013-15, upper brass has been looking to unload salary, rid itself of high-priced aging players and start all over again.
They are starting by gutting the high-priced heart of their team in ace pitcher Gerrit Cole (traded to Houston on Saturday) and the soul patroller that baseball fans affectionately refer to as Cutch.
“Making the right decision for the Pirates organization is at times difficult and, on rare occasions, painful,” Pirates president Frank Coonelly told ESPN.”No player was more disappointed than Andrew that we did not break through and win a World Series championship for the city of Pittsburgh.”
The Pirates were desperately calling squads looking to dump McCutchen last offseason. The problem is, they just never told him. It got out in the press that the they were openly shopping Cutch and it exemplified the insensitive manner in which this current Pirates ownership group has dealt with respecting its current legends and preserving its citys rich Negro Leagues baseball history.
Joe Starkey of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put it best as trade negotiations with the Washington Nationals heated up last offseason.
How did we get to the Pirates apparently cold-calling teams like telemarketers, desperate to deal the face of their franchise?
The Pirates have undoubtedly lacked some executive decorum while trying to unload McCutchen, a guy who predicted Pittsburghs rise. At his peak, he led them out of a two-decade postseason drought in 2013 and to three straight playoff appearances before falling to 78-83 in 2016 and 75-87 last year.
It was probably time for Cutch to move on, but the Pirates didnt have to handle his exit in that manner. The Pittsburgh fans and the hundreds of kids he touched through his humanitarian work off the baseball field will miss him.
Pittsburgh.My Home.My Fans.My City. The placed that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart.A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect, Cutch
McCutchen was in the conversation for best player in the game at one point in his career. He was considered the best Pirates player since Barry Bonds.
(Photo Credit: The Shadow League)
He had a down year for a player of his ilk in 2016 and the Pirates felt he was declining as he knocked on the door of being 30 years old. Despite the trade rumors, Cutch never publicly addressed those matters, how hurt he was, and he rebounded with a solid 2017, hitting 28 homers (his most since 2013), driving in 88 runs and batting .279.
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It hurts. Of course it hurts,” McCutchen told USA TODAY at the time. It stings. Im not to the point of being upset and mad about it, but Im not smiling about it. And Im not walking around saying everythings great, either.”
With his leadership, clubhouse acumen, dedication to the community and pristine reputation, hes a perfect fit for a team led by a three-time World Series manager in Bruce Bochy, looking for a boost of energy and a rise to the playoffs after stumbling to 62 wins, their lowest win total in a non strike-shortened season since 1985 when they went 62-100. The Giants, who also added former Tampa Rays franchise player Evan Longoria to the mix, will appreciate what Cutch brings to the table as the everyday right fielder.
I can’t wait for @TheCUTCH22 to teach me how to dance! #danceparty2018 #teachmehowtoCutchy https://t.co/nZ0odlYja3
Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said the trade was “one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure.”
“Andrew helped create so many special memories both on and off the field for me, our organization and our fans. He did so while always carrying himself with humility, dignity and grace,” Nutting said.
Lock the May 11-13th weekend in on your calendars. Thats when McCutchen returns to Pittsburgh with his new squad. Its sure to be a very emotional and magical time.
Even if the Pittsburgh brass fails to honor him properly, the fans surely will.