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Hypothetical recap: Andrew McCutchen trade comes back to haunt the Giants

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Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick are good, it turns out.

Seattle Mariners v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”


In 2018 the San Francisco Giants — who were coming off a 64-win season — somehow thought they could win with just a few more pieces. So they swung a trade for a one-year rental: former MVP Andrew McCutchen.

In exchange for McCutchen, the Giants sent the Pittsburgh Pirates $500,000 in international slot money, and two prospects: Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick.

It didn’t take long for the trade to look bad. Not only did the Giants predictably struggle in 2018, but Reynolds debuted in 2019. His .880 OPS and 4.1 rWAR both would have led the 2019 Giants, and he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting while establishing himself as an everyday player (at a position the Giants have hilariously struggled at in recent years).

What was even more surprising was that Crick made the trade look bad all on his own. He was spectacular as a reliever for the Pirates in 2018, and was worth 1.5 rWAR. He had a bad 2019 on and off the field, but he looks like a long-term high-end bullpen piece.

So far they’ve both been great for the 2020 Pirates, serving as two of the only bright spots on an otherwise depressing team. And on Sunday, against the team that drafted them (49th overall in 2011 for Crick, 59th overall in 2016 for Reynolds), they reminded the Giants of what they’re missing out on.

Reynolds went 3-3 with a home run, a triple, and a walk. Crick came in with the tying run on and two outs in the seventh inning and struck out Buster Posey, then had a perfect eighth inning as well.

In a world where hindsight can make decisions, those players are playing a key role in helping the Giants rebuild right now. But in the actual world we live in, they’re playing a key role in helping the Pirates rebuild right now.

So it goes.

Kevin Gausman wasn’t particularly good on the Giants end. Pablo Sandoval had a pair of doubles, which was good to see. Shaun Anderson looked okay out of the bullpen.

Ultimately, the Giants dropped the game 4-2, and fell to 24-28. They’ll have a chance to win the four-game series tomorrow.