Andrew McCutchen, Phillies Agree to 3-Year, $50M Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16:  Andrew McCutchen #26 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a lead-off home run in th efirst inning against the Toronto Blue Jays  at Yankee Stadium on September 16, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Toronto Blue Jays defeated the New York Yankees 3-2.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Andrew McCutchen is returning to the state of Pennsylvania, as the team confirmed it struck a three-year deal with a fourth-year club option with the outfielder on Wednesday. 

Matt Gelb of The Athletic first reported the sides agreed to terms on Tuesday, while Fancred's Jon Heyman noted the deal is worth $50 million.

The 32-year-old started the 2018 season with the San Francisco Giants after the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to cash in on their beloved fan favorite. The Pirates received relief pitcher Kyle Crick and minor league outfielder Bryan Reynolds in the deal.

The move was part of a major push by the Giants to try to catch up to the Los Angeles Dodgers. San Francisco also acquired three-time All-Star Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Things quickly unraveled for the Giants, though, and they dealt McCutchen to the New York Yankees just ahead of the Aug. 31 trade deadline.

McCutchen endured an underwhelming start to the season in the Bay Area, which wasn't all that surprising since AT&T Park is in the middle of the road when it comes to favoring hittersIn 130 games with the Giants, McCutchen boasted a .255/.357/.415 slash line along with 15 home runs and 55 RBI.

Philadelphia will hope it signed the Yankees version of McCutchen, who looked a little more like his old self to close out 2018. He only batted .253, but his on-base and slugging percentage climbed to .421 and .471, respectively.

Overall, McCutchen closed out 2018 hitting .255 with 20 homers, 65 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

Those numbers are still far from what he was delivering when he made five straight All-Star Games with the Pirates, but they're certainly good enough to warrant an everyday starting job in the Phillies' outfield.

Granted, McCutchen continues to be a net-negative defensively even after moving over to right field on a full-time basis. According to FanGraphs, he was tied for 17th among qualified outfielders in defensive runs saved (one) and ranked 40th in ultimate zone rating (minus-0.9).

The tradeoff is that McCutchen's defensive frailties aren't as costly in right or left field, but he's not going to deliver the power numbers one would expect from a corner outfielder.

By now, the book is out on McCutchen. Once among the most dynamic offensive players in baseball, his decline has been too steady and too prolonged to ignore. Even if his numbers improve in 2019, it's doubtful he'll ever be able to replicate his prime years in Pittsburgh.

He does, however, provide a relatively stable baseline. He has appeared in 150-plus games in eight of the last nine seasons, and his decline hasn't been so extreme as to relegate him to the bench.

There's no question signing McCutchen would've sounded a lot better for the Phillies three or four years ago. Still, he has more than enough left to be a steady contributor for their lineup in 2019 and beyond.

Although the contract is a big one, signing McCutchen doesn't necessarily knock the Phillies out of the Bryce Harper race.

With Rhys Hoskins moving from the outfield to first base, there may still be an open starting spot in the outfield alongside McCutchen and Odubel Herrera if Philadelphia is more comfortable with Nick Williams as a fourth outfielder.

Regardless of what the signing means for Harper, McCutchen is a quality veteran who should significantly improve the top portion of Philly's batting order in 2019.

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