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McCutchen talks getting deep

Last month, there were rumors of the Pirates once again entertaining the idea of trading Andrew McCutchen after entering into talks with the Nationals last summer. Although Ken Rosenthal noted that the two teams were “unlikely” to return to the negotiating table, that didn’t mean it was completely out of the question. Fast forward to December, and things have intensified to the point where Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that the Nationals were trying to make sure a trade was done yesterday.

Although the deal didn’t get done yesterday, it’s still a startling turn of events for things to go from “it’s unlikely that these two teams will talk again” to “let’s get this deal done today!” Washington wanted to make sure that it was done so they could non-tender Danny Espinosa, as he’d be up-the-middle surplus at that point. If the Nats and Bucs are still making progress on a deal, then it’s possible he’ll still be non-tendered. However, if nothing’s happened, then Espinosa will probably be tendered a contract.

Additionally, according to Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports, the Pirates are trying to get Victor Robles and Reynaldo Lopez in a potential deal, and Stark noted that Joe Ross was on Pittsburgh’s “wish list” as well. If the Pirates can pull that off, then it would be a nice haul in return for the face of their franchise–even if they’re bound to take a hit in the PR department for trading away their most popular player after breaking a long, long period of postseason darkness. However, that’s the price you have to pay if you’re going to rebuild, and it appears that the Pirates are ready to get things underway.

Washington may focus on Melancon instead of Chapman

In further Nationals trade chatter, apparently Washington had its eyes on Aroldis Chapman as a potential solution to their closer situation. There were rumors that Chapman’s camp wanted a contract around $100 million, and that number sent up a decent amount of alarm bells. Apparently the alarm was loud enough in Washington that the Nats have decided he's is too rich for their blood.

Jon Heyman tweeted out that the Nationals have decided to focus on making sure Mark Melancon returns to the team next season. Melancon did a great job for the Nationals last season–he put up a 1.82 ERA with 17 saves over 30 appearances for Washington, with a 2.91 DRA and 81 cFIP for the entire season. Heyman also pointed out that he was a great fit for their clubhouse, so it’s easy to see why the Nats would want to try their best to bring him back.

With Chapman apparently headed for a major payday and Kenley Jansen possibly getting a contract that won’t be much less than what Chapman could be getting, Melancon almost seems like a bargain in this market. Granted, he’s still going to get a substantial raise in pay, but the Nationals could definitely do a lot worse than having a guy like Melancon in their bullpen, so it makes plenty of sense for them to focus on the achievable goal of bringing him back for next season.

Otani probably won’t be coming stateside until 2019

The most exciting international “prospect” out there right now is Shohei Otani of the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Otani has been an absolute dynamo in Japan, where he’s been lighting it up both on the mound and as a designated hitter (which is just absurdly awesome). It’s only a matter of “when” and not “if” Otani is coming stateside, and he’d bring an injection of even more excitement to a game that’s already seemingly bursting at the seams with exciting young talent.

Unfortunately for everyone who wants to see Otani arrive here sooner rather than later, the new CBA has put a bit of a damper on those hopes. While the agreement meant that baseball’s unprecedented period of labor peace continued on, it also makes it so that Otani won’t be coming over until 2019 at the earliest. The new international rules in the latest CBA put a cap on most international players under age 25 receiving any more than around $6 million.

Otani is currently 22, and 2019 would be the year where he could truly make some serious money. Jeff Passan noted that he could potentially make upwards of $250 million if he were an actual free agent. I don’t know about you all, but leaving $245 million on the table is an absolute non-starter for me, so it’s completely understandable that he’d rather wait it out in Japan than come over and lose out on that much money. Otani will eventually make his way over here and we’ll enjoy every moment of what figures to be a surefire path to stardom in MLB, but for now, the NPB will get to enjoy him for a little while longer and they have MLB’s CBA to thank for that.