According to Ken Rosenthal, the San Francisco Giants have traded for Andrew McCutchen, one of my all-time favorite players. He can hit, and that’s not something you can say about a lot of Giants outfielders right now. This makes the lineup better, and I get to watch one of my favorite players.
Whether it’s a good trade or not, I’m not sure yet. But it’s a fun one.
McCutchen is 31, and he’s coming off a strong offensive season with the Pirates. He hit .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers, and he has exactly one middling offensive season in nine years, with eight outstanding ones. He hasn’t hit fewer than 20 homers since 2010; the Giants haven’t had someone hit more than 20 homers since 2015. It’s not like Pittsburgh is much easier to hit home runs in than San Francisco, so you can understand the attraction.
That written, there are some concerning details that merit a mention. McCutchen is on a one-year deal, which is great until he actually hits well. His $14.5 million salary puts the Giants right at the edge of the luxury-tax threshold. He’ll cost prospects. And he’s not much of a defensive center fielder anymore, which seems really important.
Still, here’s my response to all of those concerns: A one-year deal is fine, thank you, and I’m going to guess the Pirates will pay some of the salary down. The prospects will be a drag, but I’m still thinking the Giants are looking for a center fielder. I’m not the only one:
Don't know if it'll change once he gets here or offseason ends, but Giants plan had been to play McCutchen in a corner outfield spot. Still want defense in center field.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) January 15, 2018
What you have as of now is a lineup with two major concerns, and one of those concerns is Hunter Pence, who doesn’t have to be a concern. The lineup looks something like this now:
Andrew McCutchen - LF/CF
Joe Panik - 2B
Buster Posey - C
Brandon Belt - 1B
Evan Longoria - 3B
Brandon Crawford - SS
Hunter Pence - RF
Someone - LF/CF
That’s just not a bad lineup. I watched last year, too, and I’m super cynical, but those are a collection of players who don’t have to fall into an age-related pit next year. And if they don’t fall into that pit, they’re probably pretty good.
It’s possible that the someone is Steven Duggar (whose left-handed bat makes much more sense in this kind of lineup) or Jarrod Dyson (who could be a relatively cheap leadoff hitter/defensive whiz). That’s to be determined.
The 2018 Giants were never going to be as bad as the 2017 Giants because it was going to be nearly impossible to have the same buzzard’s luck. But they’ve acquired two former All-Stars within the last month that makes them think they’ll be much, much better. I don’t know how many games they’ll win in 2020, but I’m pretty sure they’ll win more next year. McCutchen should help.
(Note: If Heliot Ramos goes to the Pirates, I reserve the right to swear a lot.)