Timing is right for Pirates to place Andrew McCutchen on trade market

Andrew McCutchen is hitting just .237, with a .718 OPS and minus-four Defensive Runs Saved this season. Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

While the Chicago Cubs were busy setting records in April and May, the Pittsburgh Pirates were doing what they've always seemed to do in recent seasons: quietly win a lot of games. Since the Pirates snapped their 20-year streak of losing seasons, they have averaged more than 93 wins over three seasons. But perhaps because they have yet to win the perennially excellent NL Central or advance deep into the playoffs, the Pirates have continued to fly under the radar. They're just so consistently excellent that it has ceased being newsworthy.

When June began, this year's Pirates had the look of another 93-win team. They were 29-23, had one of the best offenses in baseball, frontline starting pitching, a good bullpen and were just weeks away from receiving impact reinforcements in top pitching prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow.

In the two weeks since, things have taken a turn for the worse. They have lost nine of 13 games this month and suffered injuries to critical players in ace Gerrit Cole and catcher Francisco Cervelli. Now that they are 11½ games behind the Cubs, they probably have lost their chance to win the division. While they still remain in the wild-card mix, their deficit in the division race, the composition of their team and farm system and their budgetary limitations incentivize an aggressive tactic: The Pirates should consider trading their star player, former MVP Andrew McCutchen. Here's why: