Two Ex-Pirates and Fan Favorites Join NL Central Rivals

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Pittsburgh Pirate fans received devastating news this week.  Andrew McCutchen, Cutch,  fan favorite of several generations of Pirate fans, has signed with the dreaded Milwaukee Brewers.  

The Milwaukee Brewers who continue to give the Pirates problems in the National League Central.  The Milwaukee Brewers who reside in Miller Park, now American Family field, where it seemed like the Pirates couldn't even make contact with a baseball for years. The Milwaukee Brewers who employed one of the most arrogant cheaters in the game of baseball, Ryan Braun, for 14 seasons.  Those Milwaukee Brewers.

And now the current employer of Pittsburgh Pirate MVP Andrew McCutchen, Milwaukee Brewers.  

Now, I was in favor of the McCutchen trade to the San Francisco Giants when it happened in 2018.  The price was right, and the nature of Major League Baseball's financial structure made it so an aging star was not worth the risk for a team like the Pirates.  I believe some forget we received current star center fielder, Bryan Reynolds, in return from the Giants.  I think overall, the trade can be seen as a wash for the Giants and win for the Pirates.

However, the Pirates now are in a position where they are subsidizing their young and rising talent with veterans on one-year deals.  They showed that yesterday by bringing in Daniel Vogelbach and Heath Hembree.  It's what they need to do to field a team this season.

Therefore, seeing Cutch sign a one-year deal, even at $8.5 million, was tough to see.  Despite my agreement with the trade at the time, it would still be fitting to see Cutch retire as a Pirate.  At 35 years old this season, and several shortened seasons due to injury in his early 30's, Cutch's career may be coming to an end here shortly.  It does help that the universal DH has been adopted in the NL, which will extend some players' careers. Hopefully there's still time to bring Cutch back for a year, maybe next year, but that time is running out.

The other signing was confirmed today at around 11:30 AM today.  Steven Brault, left-handed pitcher who has spent his whole career with the Pirates so far, has signed with the Chicago Cubs.  Brault certainly doesn't have the pedigree of McCutchen, or the sheer amount of Pittsburgh fans, but I would consider him a fan favorite for sure.  

Brault has an infectious personality, and sang the National Anthem several times for the Pirates.  He also always seemed to me to be on the precipice of being one of the best pitchers in the Pirates rotation.  Brault would go through spans of electric pitching with very successful results.  Then he would go through spans of the complete opposite, where it seemed like he couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark.  

So while it may be time for Brault to get a change of scenery, and hopefully for him, find some more consistency with the good spans of his career, seeing him also sign with a division rival was tough to swallow.  I haven't been able to find any hard details on the deal as far as longevity or value, but his signing with the Cubs has been confirmed.  

As Pirates fans become disenchanted with the team more and more, seeing some of their favorite players sign with rivals will not help.  I hope Cutch can retire a Pirate and I wish Brault success when he is not pitching against the Pirates.