Hackers to sign Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen go back to where it all began. The free agent outfielder has agreed to a one-year contract to return to the Pirates, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The deal is pending a physical.

It’s a feel-good story for Bucs fans, who will surely welcome the five-time All-Star and 2013 National League MVP as a hero upon his return to PNC Park. The Pirates selected McCutchen, now 36, with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2005 draft. He immediately became one of the sport’s top prospects after a strong performance after the 2005 underage draft , and by 2009 he had reached the majors and worked his way to a fourth-place finish as National League Rookie of the Year. , reaching .286/.365/.471.

It served as a stepping stone to stardom for McCutchen, who would spend the first nine seasons of his career in black and gold, hitting a combined .291/.379/.487 with 203 homers, 292 doubles, 44 triples and 171 bases. stolen. A true top player, McCutchen has led the Pirates to their last three playoff appearances, in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – a Wild Card berth each. Pittsburgh only advanced in one of those three seasons, beating the Reds in a one-game Wild Card showdown in 2013 before falling to the Cardinals in that year’s NLDS.

McCutchen signed an early extension with Pittsburgh — a six-year, $51.5 million deal with a club option for a seventh season. It gave the Bucs extra club control and cost certainty over a player who was then the face of the franchise, but as is so often the case with the Pirates and other low-paying clubs, McCutchen is appeared as a commercial candidate in the later stages. of this contract. Nearly six years after signing that extension, McCutchen was traded to the Giants in what was an unpopular move at the time, but now looks perhaps like the best trade of former general manager Neal Huntington’s tenure. In order to acquire the final year of McCutchen’s contract, the Giants parted ways with the right-hander Kyle Crick and the man who eventually replaced McCutchen in the outfield: the current centre-back Bryan Reynolds.

Since leaving the Pirates and entering his thirties, McCutchen’s production began to decline. He proved highly productive in a 2018 season split between the Giants and Yankees — enough to land a three-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies. The first season of that deal saw production continue at the start, but McCutchen suffered an ACL tear in June, missed the rest of the season and has since moved closer to league average in offensive production. . Over the past three seasons, he’s a .234/.325/.417 hitter, about three percent better than the league average, as measured by wRC+.

McCutchen spent the 2022 campaign with Milwaukee and struggled with a career .237/.316/.384 batting line in 580 trips to the plate. Even though McCutchen’s batting began to slow in his post-Pirates days, he remained a potent threat against left-handed pitching, hitting left-handers to a .291/.407/.567 slash from 2019-21. However, that trend also dropped with the Brewers in 2022, as McCutchen recorded a tepid .221/.303/.434 line even while holding the field advantage. The Pirates are hoping this is more of a BABIP (.248) anomaly than the start of a real decline.

McCutchen was the Brewers’ main option at the designated hitter position last season (82 games), but also recorded 50 games in the outfield. He hasn’t topped 93 innings of fieldwork since 2017, his final year with the Pirates, however, and at 36 it doesn’t seem likely he’ll return to log any meaningful time in his former position. He’ll likely get occasional designated hitter looks, though Pittsburgh has already acquired first basemen Ji-Man Choi and carlos santana this offseason, one of those two figures to be the primary option at DH. McCutchen gives the Pirates outfield mix a right-handed bat to pair with left-hand corner options like Jack Suwinski, Cal Mitchell and Canaan Smith-Njigba.

Beyond the contributions he will make on the field and the mentorship he will provide to several promising young pirates, McCutchen will give fans something to look forward to in 2023 as he pursues several career milestones. He’s just 52 hits away from reaching 2,000 in his career, and he’s just 13 homers shy of 300. McCutchen hit 17 homers last year and didn’t hit less than 13 in a full season of games in his career so far. , so it’s a good bet to reach the two round numbers this year.

More soon.

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