It didn’t take long for the Andrew McCutchen sweepstakes to heat up.

One day after rumors circulated about the Pittsburgh Pirates’ potential interest in trading their star center fielder, an apparent front-runner surfaced.

Multiple reports indicated the Pirates and Washington Nationals are advancing in talks centered around the former National League MVP.

While we’re still a few days from baseball’s winter meetings, there’s reason to believe a deal could quickly be finished. The Nationals, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, prefer to get the deal done before the end of the day Thursday.

“The Nationals, according to one exec, would like to make this deal (Thursday), because the ripple effect of trading for McCutchen would likely be a move to nontender shortstop Danny Espinosa before (Friday’s) tender date,” Stark reported.

The trade makes sense on multiple fronts for the Nats. While McCutchen had arguably the worst season of his career in 2016, he’s still an above-average player. Not only that, acquiring McCutchen (especially before Friday’s deadline) would allow the Nationals to tender Espinoza and move Trea Turner from the outfield to shortstop, his natural position.

Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images