The rumors of Andrew McCutchen being traded started to surface last season. Once the Pirates traded Gerrit Cole over the weekend, it was clear the team was in rebuild mode. Finally, the McCutchen trade occurred on Monday.
McCutchen was traded to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Kyle Crick, and outfielder Bryan Reynolds. The Pirates also sent $2.5 million to the Giants. It’s an extremely light return for McCutchen, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Pirates fans are upset, but a player in a contract season does not typically acquire much value.
The Giants had one of the worst outfields last season and McCutchen is a huge upgrade. He’s not the player he used to be, but he bounced back last season following one of the worst seasons of his career. McCutchen batted .279 with 94 runs, 28 home runs, 88 RBIs, 11 stolen bases and an .849 OPS. In 2016, he batted .256 with 81 runs, 24 home runs, 79 RBIs, six stolen bases and a .766 OPS.
McCutchen is going to the worst park for home runs based on 2017, according to ESPN Park Factors. However, PNC Park in Pittsburgh was 23rd and it was also one of the more difficult ball parks for right-handed hitters, so the downgrade in power won’t be significant. AT&T Park in San Francisco was 27th in runs and PNC Park was 20th. McCutchen was already playing in a tough park for hitters.
While the Giants were an awful offensive team last season averaging 3.94 runs per game, the Pirates weren’t much better at 4.12. The Giants also traded for Evan Longoria and could still add another outfielder as the indication is that the Giants want McCutchen to play in a corner infield spot.
Another aspect that could determine the Fantasy value of McCutchen is where he hits in the batting order. There’s some talk about him batting lead off, which would likely result in a decrease in RBIs. McCutchen isn’t the same player he was years ago, but if he can get 10-15 stolen bases, it will help his value.
One of the things that stands out about McCutchen is his durability. He has landed on the disabled list just one time in his career and has played in at least 153 games in seven of the last eight seasons. Expect similar numbers in 2018 as last season with a slight decrease in home runs. McCutchen is a solid all-around player with little upside. He is currently the 78thplayer off the board, according to fantrax.com ADP.
With McCutchen gone, the Pirates will move Starling Marte to center field to go with Gregory Polanco and Adam Frazier. Prospect outfielder Austin Meadows will likely start the season at Triple-A and be called up during the season.
Crick, 25, has trouble throwing strikes. He was converted to a reliever last season and while his control was better, it still wasn’t good. He had a 12.7 percent walk rate in the majors and 10.5 percent walk rate at Triple-A. In 32.1 innings with the Giants, Crick had a 3.06 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and a 20.9 percent strikeout rate. He fastball averages almost 96 mile per hour.
Reynolds turns 23 this month and batted .312 with 10 home runs and a .462 slugging percentage in High-A last season. He was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft.