If Andrew McCutchen is with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day 2018, it will be as a center fielder.
General manager Neal Huntington would not say if the Pirates will pick up McCutchen's $14.5 million option, but told reporters, including Adam Berry of MLB.com, that there are no plans to relocate the five-time All-Star away from center field.
"We believe our best club in 2018 has Andrew in center field," Huntington said Sunday. "He's worked hard to be the best defensive center fielder he can be."
In a bold move, the Pirates shifted McCutchen to right field in spring training. McCutchen then returned to center when Starling Marte received an 80-game suspension in April, and remained there the rest of the season.
Despite the conditional vote of confidence, McCutchen ranked among the worst outfielders this season in terms of defensive runs saved. That defensive decline may make it difficult for the Pirates to get a “worthwhile deal” for McCutchen on the trade market, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote last week.
-- Doug Mittler