McCutchen was the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates until last offseason, when he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. The Giants fell out of contention late in the season and traded the outfielder to the New York Yankees in August.
The veteran is far from the MVP contender he was in the first part of this decade, but he is still a well above average outfielder. McCutchen is a solid corner defender with a very good eye and reasonable pop.
11 players in 2018 were above average by power (ISO), speed (10+SBs), plate discipline (K% & BB%), & defensive value (>-10): Trout, Betts, Yelich, Bregman, Jose Ramirez, Machado, Freeman, Lindor, Hicks, Benintendi & Andrew McCutchen.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) December 11, 2018
The National League East is set to be incredibly competitive in 2019. The Nationals have added Patrick Corbin, the Braves signed Josh Donaldson and the Mets remain one of the most talked about teams at the Winter Meetings as well as having traded for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz a few weeks ago.
This is the first step in what will be a chaotic few days and weeks for the Phillies’ decision makers. McCutchen is a great building block as they construct a roster to bridge the gap to Atlanta.
The former Pirate has gone under the radar, though. That’s an odd thing to say about a player of his profile, but his decline has perhaps been overstated. His free agency has not attracted the attention it really warranted after a solid 2018 (when he had a 120 wRC+). It’s not a great leap to say that McCutchen was the best non-Harper outfield free agent.
There’s a lot to like about this deal for the Phillies. McCutchen is far more durable than A.J. Pollock and Michael Brantley and the risk on a three-year deal with a team option is limited. His arrival gives Philadelphia the opportunity to trade Nick Williams, which could help reinforce elsewhere.
This move takes a very significant piece off the offseason board. Plenty of teams will have been considering a move for McCutchen – this could prove to be a difference-making deal for the Philadelphia Phillies.