December 10, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) Make no mistake, Andrew McCutchen is happy to still be a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But the All-Star centerfielder, who spoke Saturday for the first time since the team openly tried to trade him during the recently completed winter meetings, was bothered by the recent trade talks.

''I do want to be here, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that none of this didn't bother me, that my name was out there,'' McCutchen said. ''We're all human. To have my name to be thinking about possibly being traded, I mean of course it got to me because we all have those dreams.

''My dream is to be a Pirate my whole career and to win multiple World Series, and sometimes when your name is popped up, it kind of makes you think ''well, those dreams could be altered a little.''

McCutchen agreed to a six-year, $51.5 million contract before the 2012 season. McCutchen, who is signed for the 2017 season at $14 million, plus a club option for '18 at $14.75 million, hoped to at least be able to play out his deal when he initially signed.

''If you have a contract, it doesn't mean much nowadays because you can still be traded,'' McCutchen said. ''If you would've asked me in 2012, that I would be in this position, or my name being thrown up in trades, I would've been like ''no you're crazy,'' but the game has changed and things have evolved over time, so it's not a surprise.''

Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington - eyeing glaring needs in the starting rotation and with a potential plan for replacing McCutchen in place - sent out feelers to other teams ahead of the winter meetings, but nothing came to fruition with Washington going elsewhere for a centerfielder after talks with the Pirates broke down.

McCutchen followed it all on Twitter.

''Everybody was asking me things and I was like ''look I don't know any more than what you guys know,'' McCutchen said. ''I was just kind of on edge, seeing what was going to happen.''

McCutchen admits he's surprised to still be in Pittsburgh. He had a chance to clear the air with Huntington after the winter meetings.

''I do understand he has a job, but I don't understand what he has to do,'' McCutchen said. ''I can't empathize with that, just like he can't empathize with what I could be going through. We had a good conversation and ended it on good terms.''

McCutchen said he hasn't been offered a new contract and isn't sure whether or not management will approach him about an extension. McCutchen said he's still open to a new contract with the team despite the tumultuous week, but isn't sure if that is going to happen.

''I've always said that I want to be a Pirate and I want to retire a Pirate,'' McCutchen said. ''That hasn't changed just because my name is in on trades.''

There has been no player more pivotal to Pittsburgh's turnaround than McCutchen, a former first-round pick who made his major league debut in 2009. He earned his first All-Star berth in 2011 and won the MVP in 2013, becoming the first Pirate to capture the award since Barry Bonds in 1992.

McCutchen spent the last five seasons as a fixture in the middle of Pittsburgh's lineup as the Pirates pulled themselves out of two decades of losing to reach the playoffs three straight years between 2013 and 2015.

Last season marked the first significant bump in the road for McCutchen.

He got off to one of his typical slow starts, but unlike previous years, he was unable to snap out of the funk. McCutchen hit a career-low .256 while setting a career-high with 173 strikeouts, as the Pirates sputtered to a 78-83 record, a distant third place in the NL Central behind the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.

The 30-year-old McCutchen stressed repeatedly that injuries didn't affect his performance and said the same on Saturday as he vowed to have a bounce-back season in 2017.

''You're going to have your off years, but it's all about what you do and how you come back from that,'' McCutchen said. ''I'm looking forward to this season. I'm ready to go.''

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