In a scenario destined to be awkward, All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen appeared at PirateFest on Saturday amid rumors that he was nearly traded to the Washington Nationals during the Winter Meetings.
Always a professional, McCutchen fulfilled the duties asked and expected of him. That included a lengthy morning autograph session, along with a media session that likely felt ten times longer.
There was no dancing around the issue on either side. The reporters fired away with questions on McCutchen’s feelings about his future, the team’s future and how the rumors have impacted him personally. McCutchen, for his part, didn’t shy away from addressing the situation. He did so honestly, and perhaps with an edge.
From the outside looking in, it felt like McCutchen was understanding and even accepting of the Pirates position, but irked that a resolution was not reached and could potentially linger. He wasn’t outwardly critical, of course. That’s not his style. But it can’t be easy being stuck in limbo.
The other feeling that was evident was that McCutchen is clearly motivated to prove his worth. A fire has been lit, which could prove beneficial to whichever team employs him in 2017.
Here are some of McCutchen’s more notable quotes from the event:
On being motivated in 2017:
On his health in 2016 and whether it impacted a down season:
On the trade rumors:
On his Pirates’ future:
Even without hearing his voice, you can still sense a mix of resignation and frustration. It’s obviously been a long few weeks, and that doesn’t figure to change based on what we heard from Pirates president Frank Coonelly on Saturday.
It would be understandable if McCutchen was seeking some degree of reassurance or clarity from the team, whether it be a commitment to him or to trade him. Based on quotes like that though his future is no more clear today than it has been since early October. If this is consistent with what McCutchen is hearing, then it will be very interesting to see how strong this relationship can be moving forward.
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