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Pittsburgh — Andrew McCutchen didn’t run from the challenge in Pittsburgh, he embraced it. A rising star on a franchise mired in two decades of losing, McCutchen bet on the Pirates in the spring of 2012 by signing a six-year contract, gambling that he could become one of the game’s best while helping the city reconnect with a team it had long since abandoned.

It paid off for all involved.

The dynamic, charismatic outfielder became an MVP while ushering in a renaissance. Five All-Star games. Three playoff appearances. A ballpark packed with fans wearing his No. 22. Everything McCutchen and owner Bob Nutting talked about on that sun-dappled Florida day six years ago came to fruition.

And on Monday, it all came to an end.

Facing the certainty that they couldn’t re-sign McCutchen when he hit free agency next winter, the Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for right-hander Kyle Crick, minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds and $500,000 in international signing bonus allocation. The Pirates also will send $2.5 million to the Giants to cover part of McCutchen’s $14.75 million salary.

General manager Neal Huntington broke the news to McCutchen with a phone call Monday that closed a remarkable but also remarkably brief chapter for a player Nutting said he wanted to make a “Pirate for life” before what the organization considers the economic truths of the sport set in.

“In a perfect world, that would have been a great result for Pittsburgh, a great result for Andrew,” Nutting said. “I think the realities of the game, the realities of baseball right now don’t allow that to be possible.”

The 31-year-old McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, became the second star jettisoned by Pittsburgh in three days. Ace Gerrit Cole was traded to Houston on Saturday.

Nutting called the deal that sent McCutchen to the Giants “a very emotionally challenging decision” but a move Huntington stressed was the right one.

“The players that we currently have on this roster, the players we have on the horizon, the players we’ve acquired in the two trades will play meaningful roles in the next Pittsburgh Pirates playoff team,” Huntington said.

Fueled by McCutchen’s daily brilliance and aided by Cole’s arrival in 2013 to help anchor the starting rotation, Pittsburgh ended a two-decade postseason drought in 2013 and made three straight playoff appearances before falling to 78-83 in 2016 and 75-87 last year.

McCutchen, perhaps the franchise’s most popular player since Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, did little to shy away from his role. When the team moved him to right field last winter, he talked openly about following in the footsteps of Roberto Clemente.

The durable McCutchen has played at least 153 games in each of the past three seasons for the Pirates, batting .279 with 28 home runs and 88 RBIs in 156 games in 2017.

Lamont joins Royals

Former big league manager Gene Lamont, who spent the past 11 seasons on the staffs of Jim Leyland and Brad Ausmus in Detroit, has been hired as a special assistant to Royals general manager Dayton Moore, reuniting him with the organization where he spent nearly a decade coaching prospects.

The Royals announced his hiring Tuesday.

Around the horn

Royals pitcher Danny Duffy has pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in a Kansas City suburb and has been placed on a year’s probation.

... Left-hander Wade LeBlanc agreed to a minor league contract with the Yankees and will report to major league spring training.

... Right-handed reliever Addison Reed and the Twins finalized a $16.75 million, two-year contract, putting another pitcher with closing experience in the back of Minnesota's bullpen.

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