Possible Destinations for Andrew McCutchen

Possible Destinations for Andrew McCutchen

by January 23, 2022 1 comment

Despite being 35 years old, Andrew McCutchen remains productive on the back nine of his career.

While the five-time All-Star isn’t at that level anymore, he has maintained above-replacement-level production into his mid-30s. In 2021, McCutchen slashed .222/.334/.444 with a 107 wRC+ and 1.4 rWAR while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. He also hit 27 home runs, drove in 80 runs, and continued to dominate left-handed pitching. In 195 plate appearances against southpaws, he slashed .293/.405/.622 with a 168 wRC+ and 15 home runs.

His defense left some to be desired, posting negative seven defensive runs saved (DRS) and negative four outs above average (OAA). However, since he can still hit, perhaps he could transition into a platoon outfielder or designated hitter for the final stretch of his career.

McCutchen isn’t the same player that won NL MVP in 2013, but he remains a capable bat at the big league level. Who could be in the market for a player like McCutchen?

New York Yankees

McCutchen had a cup of coffee with the Bronx Bombers in 2018, spanning just 30 games. Through 25 regular-season contests, he posted five home runs, a .421 OBP, and a 150 wRC+. He also walked at an exceptionally high rate (19.3 percent).

The knack for taking Ball Four still exists in the outfielder, as he walked in 13.6 percent of his plate appearances with Philadelphia. As a result, he immediately fits in with the Yankees’ philosophy of hitting home runs and taking free passes.

Defensively, there isn’t a consistent spot for the 35-year-old. That being said, they could try him out in a platoon role with fellow veteran outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Hicks, 32, has seen his fair share of time on the injured list in recent seasons. On top of that, he has just a 97 wRC+ against southpaws in his Yankees career. On the flip side, McCutchen’s is 145 during the same span. As for against right-handers, Hicks wields a 114 wRC+ since 2016 while McCutchen’s is only 102.

The Yankees could try to mitigate the injury risk for Hicks by letting him and McCutchen platoon in left field. Joey Gallo has over 400 innings in center field at the MLB level, where his DRS is four.

The Yankees could run an outfield of Hicks, Gallo, and Aaron Judge against righties and McCutchen, Gallo, and Judge against lefties—with Giancarlo Stanton sprinkled in as well.

Boston Red Sox

Similar to their archrival Yankees, the Boston Red Sox may be a team looking at outfield platoon options.

Last season, Alex Verdugo posted just a 48 wRC+ against southpaws. While that number was 119 between 2019 and 2020, the 2021 struggles may persist. On top of Verdugo, the team also brought back Jackie Bradley Jr., whose career wRC+ against left-handers is 81 (78 since 2016). One way or another, there’s a likelihood they may need a right-hander to platoon with Verdugo or Bradley Jr.

Boston, like its enemy in New York, has rumored interest in Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki. Depending on the result of that, McCutchen makes sense as a viable Plan B.

The team was two wins away from the World Series in 2021, despite several players outperforming expectations. There was a strong bond in that locker room, with Alex Cora right at the front of it. Andrew McCutchen is widely regarded as a great teammate. He’d fit right in with the culture.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners shocked the baseball world by being postseason-eligible into the season’s final week. Unfortunately for them, they fell short.

General manager Jerry Dipoto is known for being very active and creative in ways to improve the roster. Whether it be backing up the brinks truck to Robinson Canó or trading him alongside an All-Star closer for prospects, Dipoto is never 100 percent content.

Offseason acquisitions include reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and utility man Adam Frazier, addressing multiple roster needs. Moreover, another need is outfield production, particularly against left-handed pitching. Mitch Haniger had a wRC+ of 148 against southpaws, but the next-best primary outfielder with more than 50 plate appearances against them was Jake Fraley (63). That’s not going to cut it.

There’s a need for production, which McCutchen fits. But the Mariners also have a couple of young outfielders that may benefit from veteran mentorship (Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez). McCutchen has 13 seasons of big-league experience and multiple postseason trips. He has also experienced the highs and lows of being an MLB player. There aren’t too many people like him in the league, and signing him could be beneficial for the Mariners.

Milwaukee Brewers

This is a team that needs offense in many areas, especially after this past NLDS against the Atlanta Braves.

Having a pitching staff of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Adrian Houser—not to mention Aaron Ashby—and being eliminated in the first round is inexcusable. They had some obstacles, like Christian Yelich regressing to a 101 wRC+, Bradley Jr. being arguably the worst hitter in the league, and Lorenzo Cain continuing to battle injuries.

McCutchen is not one to miss games; only once has he missed more than 16 contests in a full season (2019). He’s an iron man, but productive with the bat as well. Those are two things Milwaukee needs, especially after losing Avisail Garcia to the Marlins.

Pittsburgh Pirates

There’s no clear timeline for when McCutchen will retire. However, Pittsburgh may be a fun place to bookend a great career.

McCutchen spent the first nine seasons of his career there. In that time, he made all five of his All-Star Teams, won four Silver Slugger awards, won 2013 NL MVP, and hit 203 of his 270 career home runs. The longtime Pirates center fielder is only a couple of seasons’ worth of production away from being top-10 for the franchise in hits. He’s a few months out of the top-10 in runs batted in and is already top-five in home runs and top-10 in doubles and walks.

He’s a Pirates legend. Should he decide his career is close to being over, perhaps he takes a similar approach to Torii Hunter and goes back to his original organization for a couple of seasons.

The Pirates aren’t going to be competing for at least two or three more years, but bringing back McCutchen would be a great way to bring fans back to the stadium. Nostalgia breeds excitement. It’s why grown adults went to see “Incredibles 2” with their friends despite being outside the movie’s demographic.

Young Pirates fans grew up with McCutchen, watching him torment opposing pitchers and bring relevancy back to Pittsburgh baseball in the early- to mid-2010s. Should he return for a couple of years, people will want to watch him.

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