Thoughts on Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants
It has finally happened, the San Francisco Giants have landed an outfielder this offseason. Today, Andrew McCutchen was sent from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the San Francisco Giants. Now, while I am not personally a huge fan of this move, I am extremely happy to see the team actually able to continue to deal and attempt to contend next year. There is plenty to be critical of, and plenty to be excited about, and I am going to break it all down in this piece.
There is a lot to be excited about. Bobby Evans managed to pull the trigger and land a big-name outfielder after whiffing on several other names this offseason. The Giants landed a very stable player in McCutchen. He has played over 140 games in every year since his rookie year, and that is incredible. He will hopefully provide some stability to an outfield that was riddled with injuries last year. I am also very excited about his potential on offense. He is a career .291 hitter, and has hit over 20 home runs in seven straight seasons. Only three other Major League outfielders currently have a longer 20+ home run streak than McCutchen, and they are Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, and Nelson Cruz. He won the NL MVP award in 2013.
According to Baseball-reference.com, he is projected to hit .268, with an OBP of .357, while hitting 23 home runs and driving in 77. The thing about that projection though, is that it does not take the fact that this is a contract year for Andrew McCutchen into account. He is in the last year of his deal, and is looking to establish his value on the market to be able to earn a big contract. I would be extremely happy to see him hit over 20 home runs and drive in 70 runs, and I think that he could easily do that.
He is being added to a lineup that contains some other very solid offensive pieces, especially with the addition of Evan Longoria. I actually really like this move from an offensive perspective, I think that he and Longoria will help protect Buster Posey in the lineup, and make it harder for opposing pitchers to pitch around him, which should lead to him having a nice year. I also think that this will really help Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Having two more players with the potential to hit 20/30 home runs in the lineup will take a lot of pressure off of the duo, and it should help them have nice bounce-back seasons.
If I take a look at the current Baseball-reference.com projections for the starting lineup for the Giants, I get really excited. If their core can stay healthy, I think that they have the potential to have a really nice offense, much better than their 23rd place finish last year in terms of batting average, and last place finish in terms of home runs.
Now, the problem I have with this deal is from a defensive standpoint. I do not think that McCutchen was brought in to play center field, as he has not been a great defensive-center fielder in quite some time, but last year, in limited-action, he did play well in right field. Now, this would mean that Hunter Pence would have to move to left field, if he stays in the starting lineup, but that move would make sense, as it would be easier on his oft-injured body, and would help make his arm much more lethal.
With McCutchen now on the team, the Giants can now shift their focus to center field, where I assume they will make a defensive-oriented move. They are rumored to be in on Lorenzo Cain, which I think would be a good move, as long was we don’t give him more than like three years, because he is 31 years old. He is a very good defensive center fielder, who is also a career .290 hitter, so I think that he would be a good fit. The problem is that we would have to sacrifice a draft pick to get him, but at this point I am not sure how big of an issue that is given how the trades we have made don’t exactly make us younger.
I know I started this piece saying that I am not a huge fan of this trade, but while writing it and digging into McCutchen’s stats and doing more research, I found myself getting more and more excited. I think that if they Giants acquire Cain to play center field, then they will have a very solid offense this year, and with bounce-back seasons from Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, I think that we will have a chance to contend for a wild card spot or even the NL West crown.