According to multiple reports, the San Francisco Giants will trade soon-to-be free agent Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees ahead of Friday night’s final deadline to acquire players who will be eligible for the postseason. The Giants will receive a package headlined by mid-tier infield prospect Abiatal Avelino in return. The Yankees, infuriatingly, add an extremely charismatic baseball man, and get not just better, but also a little bit more fun.
McCutchen, the former MVP and all-time great Pittsburgh Pirate, moves to only his third team in his 10th season in the majors, after just 130 games in San Francisco. Of course, he’s declined quite a bit since his career peak with the Pirates, hitting and slugging all-time lows of .255 and .415. But New York’s outfield problems were beginning to look more and more pressing, and for the moment, McCutchen slots right into their starting lineup.
The 31-year-old joins a Yankee squad seemingly locked into the Wild Card game, and still trying to deal with Aaron Judge’s July wrist injury, from which he doesn’t appear to be recovering in the immediate future. Giancarlo Stanton, too, has been battling hamstring problems, but has simply hit at DH rather than miss any games. McCutchen, despite his decline, will be a clear upgrade assuming he replaces the weak-hitting right-field platoon of utility man Neil Walker and 33-year-old Shane Robinson, who’s been a regular player in the month of August despite his .208 OBP. McCutchen might also be in for a bump in production simply by moving to a much more hitter-friendly park.
On a full-strength Yankees team, McCutchen is probably the fourth-best outfielder behind Judge, Stanton, and Aaron Hicks, but even if the team improves to full strength, he’ll still have plenty to offer as he seeks his first-ever championship. If you want to really, really look far ahead, he is at the least an absolutely fantastic pinch-hitter to have in the World Series. But whatever his role with the Yankees is over the next couple of months, Cutch is yet another very likable player jammed into the vile and hated pinstripes. He deserves to play meaningful baseball in the fall, but hopefully he finds a different contender come 2019.