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Perrotto: Is Bob Nutting Really The Hero in Andrew McCutchen’s Return?

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The story behind the reunion of Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates is a cool one.

The veteran outfielder was a free agent and texted Pirates owner Bob Nutting earlier this month that he was interested in returning to the franchise he starred with from 2009-17.

Nutting, in turn, informed general manager Ben Cherington of McCutchen’s desire of coming back to the Pirates five years after he was traded to the San Francisco Giants.

The two sides met and worked out a deal. On Friday afternoon, the one-year, $5-million contract will be formally signed at a news conference at PNC Park.

The Pirates rarely have good news to report and bringing back a franchise icon certainly qualifies as good news. Why they would hold the press conference on a Friday afternoon, a time that ensures less coverage from the media, is hard to understand.

In the public relations world, Friday afternoons are the time for “bad news dumps” because fewer people are paying attention.

Anyhow, they’re the Buccos and they always seem to do things differently than the rest of the world. Which might explain why they haven’t won a division title in 32 years or a postseason series in 45 years.

In some corners of the internet, Nutting is being hailed as a hero for bringing McCutchen back.

I suppose that’s one to look at it. I prefer to look at it like somebody walking down the street and being lucky enough to find a $20 bill on the sidewalk.

It doesn’t take skill to do that, just be someone’s lucky day.

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It was McCutchen who got in contact with Nutting, not the other way around. Thus, it wasn’t as if it was Nutting’s idea.

While $5 million is a lot of money by the Pirates’ penurious standards, McCutchen took a pay cut to come back. He made $8.5 million last season while playing for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Granted, McCutchen wasn’t a hot commodity on the free agent market as a 36-year-old. He had been connected to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays in rumors but that was about it.

Still, it was McCutchen who initiated conversations with the Pirates.

There are also indications that not everyone in the Pirates’ baseball operations is necessarily on board with signing McCutchen.

The Pirates already have nine outfielders on their 40-man roster before officially adding McCutchen.  Some in the brain trust are concerned that McCutchen might take away at-bats and development time from such young outfielders as Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell and Canaan Smith-Njigba.

It does speak well to Nutting that he was receptive to McCutchen’s overtures. However, that doesn’t mean he is a hero.

After all, this homecoming didn’t really have to ever take place. When former GM Neal Huntington decided to trade McCutchen, Nutting could have blocked it.

He didn’t.

 

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