Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Trey McNutt was one of a handful of heavily-rumored names back in October/November last year as compensation to the Boston Red Sox for Theo Epstein. The rumors went so far as to lead to what I can only imagine were some awkward interviews while McNutt was trying to pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
McNutt always felt like “too much” compensation, despite a down 2011 season. He was hurt or ineffective for most of the season, but he remains the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, and one of the five best in the system overall.
So, there’s no way the 22-year-old righty who was Baseball America’s 48th best prospect before the 2011 season will be the compensation for Epstein, right?
Well, probably not. But some comments today from McNutt have me … a touch nervous. From Cubs.com:
When McNutt first heard the rumors [that he might be the compensation], he admits it was a little hard to focus during the AFL.
“I tried to block most of it out,” he said. “I just wanted to know where I was going to be. It doesn’t really matter. I finished the Fall League strong. I hope to pick up where I left off and keep going.” …
On Sunday, McNutt threw a side session and, coincidentally, Epstein was standing behind him, watching the right-hander.
“He’s a good dude,” McNutt said. “I met him [Sunday]. I like him a lot. He’s a pretty good guy. All of them — [general manager Jed] Hoyer, all of the front-office guys are real good dudes.”
Did they talk about whether or not McNutt needed to pack his gear?
“[Epstein] said, ‘Don’t worry. If it happens, it happens. It’s going to work out for the best for you, it’s going to benefit you,'” McNutt said. “That’s a good thing.”
This spring, McNutt’s goals are simple.
“I’m going to try to stay off the DL all year this year,” McNutt said. “That’s my goal. Stay off the DL and get 150-plus innings.”
“I don’t care if it’s a ‘C’ or a ‘B’ [on the cap],” he said. “Whatever works out for them. It’s not my choice. It’s their decision, not mine. Well, it’s Bud Selig’s decision now.”
Ok. So, if McNutt’s recounting of yesterday’s conversation with Epstein is accurate, the Cubs’ President was essentially warning McNutt that he could be the compensation going to Boston.
That ain’t good. Add to that what appears to be the kind of cavalier attitude associated with a belief that you might be a goner (McNutt doesn’t care if he’s on the Cubs or the Red Sox? I’m not asking for a blood oath to the Cubs, but it would be nice if he felt a little bit of affection), and it feels like there’s a little smoke there.
But, before you freak out (like I did when I first read this article), keep in mind: the Cubs don’t know who is going to Boston. The decision remains in Commissioner Bud Selig’s hands, and, while the Cubs might have an idea of what large group of players are being discussed, I doubt they know for certain who the player is going to be. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine that Selig has a list of requested players from the Red Sox that includes McNutt, and a list of offered players from the Cubs that does not.
If I were betting, in fact, that’s how I’d bet.
So, it’s fair if McNutt’s comments make you a little squeamish, but there are many, many explanations here. Probably not worth getting worked up about.
If Selig actually selects McNutt, on the other hand, well, then I’ll be getting worked up.