Age: 10/10/1986 (32)
Traditional Stats: .255/.368/.424, 145 hits, 30 2B, 3 3B, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB
Advanced Stats: 2.7 bWAR, 2.6 fWAR, 118 OPS+, 120 wRC+, .304 BABIP
It’s been 10 years since former top-prospect Andrew McCutchen made his MLB debut against the Mets, and five years since his MVP season for the Pirates. Is it time for the once-elite McCutchen to come to Queens?
McCutchen is far from the player he was in 2013, but he is also far from useless. 2018 was his first season away from Pittsburgh. Splitting time in San Francisco and across town in the Bronx, McCutchen put up a .792 OPS.
When looking at his total season stats, it is hard not to see the signs of regression for the now 32-year-old. However, he showed signs of legitimate life once he donned the pinstripes. In 25 games, he posted five home runs and an .892 OPS. This is a significant increase from his .772 OPS in 130 games as a Giant. Is this sample size too small to definitively say McCutchen is back? Of course it is.
Let’s not be silly. While his tenure in New York should be indicative of what an aging Cutch can still do, McCutchen is still on the wrong side of 30, and his production appears to be on the downturn. He homered eight fewer times in 2018 compared to 2017, and he struck out 29 more times in one fewer at bat.
And we cannot forget about his defense. McCutchen was once an infamous hit-stealer when he patrolled centerfield for the Pirates. He won the 2012 Gold Glove in center, which was also the last time that McCutchen posted positive Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) figures until his move to rightfield in 2017, when McCutchen’s diminished range and foot speed forced him to a corner spot.
He posted -28 DRS in 2016 in well over 1,000 innings in centerfield, which is indicative enough of the kind of defender he had become. However, McCutchen grades out to be an average-at-worst rightfielder; he posted 2 DRS in the ninth position in both 2017 and 2018.
If the Mets were to target McCutchen, he would likely slot into rightfield, while Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo split duties in left and center. Things could get complicated when Yoenis Cespedes returns from injury, but he is a big question mark at the moment.
The Mets, lacking Cespedes for the foreseeable future, are sorely missing a big, right-handed bat. McCutchen, despite his regression, would help to balance the Mets’ lineup and split up some of the lefties in the middle of the order.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts that McCutchen could see a three-year, $45 million dollar deal. He made just south of $15 million in 2018, so it is hard to envision him settling for any less after a relatively productive year. Still just 32, McCutchen will likely ask for a three-year deal, and some team with a need in the outfield might just give it to him. A two-year deal worth $25-28 would likely be McCutchen’s market if he finds that he has to settle. A team might try to sweeten this deal with a third year option loaded with performance incentives.
McCutchen is not a perfect fit for the Mets. Despite him being a right-handed bat, the Mets would be better served exploring true centerfielders before expanding the outfield search to include corner-only guys. And, outfield should not even be one of the top priorities for the team this offseason. The Mets should only look to players like McCutchen after addressing the bullpen and the catching position. For this reason, as well as his age and declining production, McCutchen should not be super high on the Mets radar this offseason.