Phillies Reach Agreement with Free Agent OF Andrew McCutchen

The Phillies are reported to have reached agreement on a 3-year/$50M deal with OF Andrew McCutchen, pending a physical. 

The Phillies agreed to terms for the former Pirates’ MVP/All Star’s age 32 thru 34 seasons.  McCutchen is coming off a 2018 campaign where he posted a combined slash of .255/.368/.424/.792 for the Giants and Yankees.

McCutchen played in 155 games and accrued 682 plate appearances, 569 at bats, 145 hits, 20 HR, and 65 RBI.  He drew 95 walks, struck out a career high 145 times, and posted a 118 OPS+, the second lowest in his 10-year.

The 2013 NL MVP has certainly entered the autumn of his career.  He is 3 years removed from his last appearance in the All Star game and his last serious consideration for MVP in 2015

Still, McCutchen’s addition to the Phillies outfield appears to be a defensive improvement of last year’s contingent.

Matt Gelb and Jim Salisbury were among the first to report the signing.

More importantly, how does this affect the Phillies pursuit of Harper/Machado?  Probably, not at all.  They were looking at signing a Brantley type no matter which of the top guys they signed.  McCutchen is the third best corner OF available via free agency.  His signing fits into their plan.  They can and should sign the additional parts they intend to sign.  Waiting to see what Harper and Machado could cost them some of the guys they would have targeted.

I’ll keep adding to this as more facts become known.  But for now, here’s a place for you to talk about the trade.

 

55 thoughts on “Phillies Reach Agreement with Free Agent OF Andrew McCutchen

  1. Like move!! Bad dressing Ivy leaguer having s nice off season so far. Good work improving defense at three positions.

    1. I’m just waiting for all the shoes to drop. Not wishing my life away but the next 2 months are going to be a long waiting room visit.

  2. Why do I read philly.com and nbcphilly,com comments? The bottom feeders who reside on such sites are, of course, blasting the signing. I have followed all my Philly pro teams for decades, but find a large proportion of “fans” incredibly ignorant and filled with vitriol. To wit, the reaction to the signing.

    I like it as a piece to solving the complex puzzle that is the current editioin of your Philadelphia Phillies. He is a much needed veteran who is a plus defender and holds his own in the batter’s box.

    All the venom seems to spring from the uninformed who believe that McCuthcion was signe in lieu of Machado or Harper.

    1. yea, it truly is the angry, embarrassing, incessantly negative side of the fanbase that frequent those comments sections… I’m overjoyed that most of them stay there instead of poisoning good blogs like this one.

  3. One real positive, via Jeff Sullivan’s Fangraphs analysis:

    “One hint that his could be a graceful aging process can be found in his discipline numbers. Now, McCutchen has never been a free-swinger. Among qualified hitters in 2016, though, he ranked 29th in chase rate. In 2017, he ranked 13th. In 2018, he ranked second, behind only Joey Votto. McCutchen has grown more selective, and he’s learned to lay off more pitches up. His eye should keep McCutchen dangerous at the plate.”

    McCutchen has never really played in a great home run park for right-handed batters. That change, along with his keen eye, could cause another jump in his walk rate. His OBP was already a plus and if pitchers have to be more careful, that could offset some of his natural decline. Worst case it seems like we’ve basically taken Carlos Santana and turned him into the same hitter with acceptable COF defense. Not spectacular, but a solid move by Klentak.

    1. I get the move and know that it has virtually no effect on their pursuing the other big named free agents – they have plenty of money for that and their concern with money isn’t the next 3 years, it’s after that, so his 3-year contract isn’t a big deal.

      As for Andrew, he seemed to struggle there for a few years, but he’s a great athlete, seems to be a super guy and really has had very consistent OPS+ numbers over the last few years and, in doing so, has worked on his plate discipline.

      I will also say that, at his peak, I went to a Phillies game and he blew me away. He simply had the fastest bat I have ever seen in person – blinding quickness.

      It’s impossible to know when a player is going to hit the age wall after the age of about 29, but, after a brief stumble, he looks solid at the very least and he’s lean and well-conditioned athlete so that bodes well for his next few years. Also, the contract only goes through his age 34 year, so it’s not like he’s going to be really old during this contract.

      On the whole, I like this move. What I really like is the Phillies approach on the B/B+ level moves like this one and the Segura trade. When an acquisition takes you from being bad at a position (like SS or RF) to being well above average, that’s a huge upgrade – and that’s just what the Segura and McCutcheon moves have done for this team. Now they need at least one huge upgrade because that line-up lacks that one additional tipping point bat. Go to it MK!

  4. A lot like last year’s Santana signing but without the QO. Similar age, offensive decline, money. The sort of deal mediocre teams make, in other words.

  5. So this really is completely unrelated to (and/or has no impact on) the Phils’ pursuit of Harper? I’m a bit skeptical about that. I can agree Mccutcheon would have no impact on Machado, but not so sure about Harper.

    1. I don’t like the signing, but I don’t know why it would have any impact on getting Harper or Machado. The team still has very little committed in LT deals-Kingery, Herrera, Segura, McCutchen are it, if I remember correctly. They can spend, if they want to.

    2. I read the Phils are hot after Manny and have Harper as a plan B. Which i disagree completely. i think Harper will be the better player long term. He has the big left handed bat that we need. Segura, Hoskins, Cutch, Franco, Alfaro, Kingery, (Manny) all RH. only true lefthander is Doobie. Dont get me wrong i will take Manny in a heart beat but Harper would be my #1.

  6. I think McCutchen fits plate discipline method the team is looking for better than Brantley or Pollock.
    He has CF experience and was ‘the face of the franchise’ which I think will help the young team. I’d prefer to hear Cutch talk rather than Kapler.

    He is only 32, so I could see him stay pretty much the same player through the deal. Plus, maybe one year he captures superstardom for a couple months.

    The only dislike I really have is he bats righty. The price is a bit over prediction but happier than an extra year. If someone from the minors forces him to the bench that guy will need to be a really good player.

  7. soild veteran signing. This feels like the beginning of more to come including trades to upgrade pitching. Odubel and Herrera now expendable.

  8. I would love to see the reactions today if we redid the raul Ibanez signing. Let’s just see how McCutchen does before we label this a bad signing.

    1. My initial reaction was ‘Huh?!’ But upon further thought and 15 minutes later, I recognized that Cutch is essentially Santana’s veteran replacement, slightly cheaper, yet a good addition provided greater impact acquisitions are still on the way. He’s a markedly better LF than Hoskins with a higher slash line than Santana’s. I’m on board.

      Good move, Matt….now let’s make a few more.

      1. I wrote a similar comment (it didn’t post – was probably too long) and I agree. Also, this move and the Segura move at SS take them from below average at a position to well above average and that’s huge because this line-up had way too many dead spots – guys would get on base and then go nowhere. Now they need the last big bopper.

        1. A lefty power bat would do nicely. This lineup is shaping up to be RH heavy, especially if Manny is the priority over Harper, who in my opinion is a better fit.

          1. 8mark….still do not get the right handed bat phobia.
            Look at the great BA/OPS hitters of late…Betts, Altuve, Trout, Goldey Machado, Correa et al.
            All right handed hitters.
            There is very slight difference betwen a RHB hitting RHPs vs a LHB hitting RHPs
            However on the flip side….RHBs hit RHP better than LHBs hit LHPs….and the reason for that…..because 75% of their baseball life from Little League all the way up to the majors, that is who they have faced.
            I have no issue with a few more right handed batters in the lineup than LHBs.
            Fortunately with Quinn, and also Knapp and Cesar…if they are sill around…that is no problem..

  9. Olney pulls one down on Cutch last night:
    @Buster_ESPN
    …From @PaulHembo: 49 different players had at least 150 plate appearances in the leadoff spot in 2018. Andrew McCutchen’s OBP of .414 ranked 2nd in that group, behind only Mookie Betts (.439).
    7:09 PM – Dec 11, 2018

  10. I’m not as against it as I was yesterday but there still has to be other things done for this to make sense or at least in my opinion. What surprised me the most is how many “experts” called this a winning signing for us. I preached patience yesterday and then jumped off a cliff after this signing, I need to take my own advice and see what other pieces follow.

    1. I see McCutchen as an altogether different type of signing than Santana a year ago. The trade for Segura and the signing of McCutchen tell agents for Harper and Machado that they don’t have the whip hand in negotiations with Philly.

      It says that the Phils will ink the high priced free agent it can reach agreement with first and that the cupboard isn’t bare at the position played by the free agent (Harper or Machado) left unsigned. Seen in this light, the signing might pay for itself and we won’t know this until the free agent market plays out.

      1. Klentak: Hey Scott, just wanted to let you know that between your boy and Manny, the first guy we determine as the more signable gets the record setting contract. I told Dan Lozano the same thing. Ask him….

  11. Olney, Law, and others liked this signing very much. Bowden did not like it but said so based upon the $$$. My guess is Brantley – who is very similar to Cutch, will get more money and has been hurt often. The Phillies outbid the Braves and others for Cutch – reported this morning. At the same time, I agree with Romus that Cutch is essentially the same player as the departed Santana – except – he is a NEED in LF, he runs, but otherwise his production is quite comparable. I expect at CBP he will hit 20 + homers. Cutch has never played in a homer friendly park – 13 of his 20 hr were on the road last year.

    1. Yeah, and because he’s more athletic and can play multiple positions, he’s much more useful. He also has a much better hit tool. Last year the Phillies learned the tough lesson about not having enough players with a good hit tool. It’s no help having runners on base if there’s nobody to drive them in.

    2. RU…Cutch does hit to right center…..in SF and PNC that was not a good fit…in CBP that could be off the wall stuff.

  12. I saw reports that we’re out on Brantley. If Machado signs with PHI instead of Harper, why wouldn’t Brantley still be in play?

    1. 8mark….Klentak had alluded last night that Cutch will go to LF….Brantley is more or less a LFer also….though Cutch probably can play RF.
      As for Doobie and Nick Williams, if Brantley comes on board also….who knows!

  13. I still prefer the Phillies takes care of the big fish (Harper, Marchado) first. but I’m ok with this move due to the following:

    1) Phillies will no longer spend stupid money on health risk Michael Brantley
    2) Phillies will no longer spend stupid money and lost draft pick and IFA $ on AJ Pollock
    3) Good veteran leadership over the young OF group and in the clubhouse
    4) Not playing the same position as Harper and Machado so the Phillies can still acquire both

  14. The pieces to the jigsaw puzzle are falling into place. Who will be next? I’d like to see the Phillies add Happ, but I really don’t see him as much of an upgrade. If the Phillies were to keep the present 5 starters, I’d be okay with that, as long as they continue to upgrade the bullpen. Yesterday’s signing of McCutchen gives the team flexibility. He’s a possible leadoff hitter, and he replaces Santana’s offensive numbers. He can play either corner OF position, and even though he’s lost a step, he’ll run good routes, and he won’t be kicking the ball around out there. From what I understand, he’s a great clubhouse guy.
    If the Phillies sign Harper, McCutchen can play LF, Quinn in CF, and Harper in RF. Altherr can back up all three positions, and Williams is a good pinch hitter- double switch guy.
    If they sign Machado to play SS, They can keep Franco at 3rd base, and play Segura at 2nd base. But … if they can somehow sign both Harper and Machado, we could be looking at an incredible line up that would make the Phillies NL favorites.
    1 Quinn – CF
    2 McCutchen – LF
    3 Machado – SS
    4 Harper – RF
    5 Hoskins – 1B
    6 Segura – 2B
    7 Franco – 3B
    8 Alfaro – C
    That’s a 15 game difference in wins, at least.

  15. While I wanted Brantley, I’m ok with this signing. Cutch shows up as he has played 155 games per year. You can’t say the same thing for Brantley or Pollock. It also looks like Brantley will get 4 years. Cutch will look fine batting 6th for us playing RF. He will provide a solid veteran in the clubhouse too.
    Signing Manny is still the goal though.

    1. agreed 100%. I wanted Brantley as a way to balance out the R-L hitters and, along with Segura, cut down on the K’s considerably. But it’s hard to hate on the Cutch signing as he is obviously one of the most respected guys around the league, he presents a clear upgrade at a position in need of improvement (offensively and defensively), he is not surrounded by durability questions, he does not prevent a Harper acquisition but provides some insurance in case Harper goes elsewhere, he isn’t blocking any top-tier OF prospect from getting at-bats…the list goes on…

  16. Keith Law likes the McCutchen signing:

    “The Phillies cleared left field with their recent trade of Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to Seattle for Jean Segura and two relievers, which allowed them to move Rhys Hoskins, who was a defensive disaster in left, back to first base for 2019. They’ve now filled the vacated corner outfield spot by signing Andrew McCutchen to a very reasonable three-year, $50 million deal, one that should make them a little better on offense and a good bit better on defense, and brings one of the most respected players in the game into a clubhouse that’s still on the young side and is likely to remain so for the next few years.

    McCutchen is a corner outfielder now, and there’s no reason he should play center with Odubel Herrera entrenched there and Roman Quinn backing him up. The Phillies can just plug him in left field and hope he continues to hit as he did the past two years — .267/.366/.455 for a 121 wRC+, well above league average for left fielders in that span (about a 101 wRC+). That’s more than the Phillies got from Santana, whom McCutchen is more or less directly replacing, and they still have further room to improve if they add another corner outfielder to upgrade on their nonproductive right field tandem of Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr.

    McCutchen’s defense has certainly slipped from his peak, when he could play an average center field, to where you’re hoping for average defense in left and might settle for a few runs below that. He’ll play all of 2019 at age 32 and MLB’s sprint speed metrics say he can still run plus when he needs to. If he’s lost anything due to age, it would be a little bit of bat speed, as he looked like he might be cheating a little on velocity last year and thus performing worse than usual on off-speed stuff, but his eye is still good enough and he has enough power to be valuable despite that. He’s also been exceptionally durable, playing at least 146 games in nine straight seasons, with a thumb or hand injury in 2016 the only real ailment he’s had. The presence of Quinn, an 80 runner with contact skills and a long history of getting hurt, as a fourth outfielder could give McCutchen more days off over the course of the long season; it’s possible that will help him maintain his level of production even as he gets older.

    Phillies GM Matt Klentak pointed out, correctly, on Monday that if they want to be a playoff team in 2019, they need to build a roster they believe can win 90-plus games. The Phillies won 80 last year, ahead of their Pythagorean projection based on their runs scored/allowed (76 wins) but also not reflective of how the team played before September, a month in which they seemed to lose more games than they actually played. The additions of Segura, McCutchen and some bullpen help pushes them up probably five to six wins already. If they make a huge splash — say, signing one of this winter’s two elite free agents — they’d have a very credible argument that they’re a 90-plus win team on paper going into spring training.”

    1. Damn, i’m not an insider so I guess it’s nice to see Klaw’s opinion, but that’s a really lousy thing to post in full when the guy is trying to make money off of a subscriber system. This should be taken down.

  17. Overall, I’m happy with the move. McCutchen was a name I floated last year around the trade deadline as a target they should have explored for help in the OF. This is not a ‘sexy’ move but it is the type of move that bid market teams make to add depth to the roster.

    McCutchen is no longer an MVP caliber player but he is a massive defensive upgrade in the OF and generally provides good at-bats. Only concern is that his numbers against breaking balls last season were bad but the good news is that the NL is more of a fastball league vs what he was seeing during his time with the Yankees.

  18. Love how K.Law wrote, “….in September (Phillies) seemed to lose more games than they actually played.”

    Fine with the McCutchen signing but Adam Jones is available. Someone tell me why one is better than the other.

    1. Adam Jones doesn;t want to play for the Phillies when BAL agreed in principle with the Phils for the trade.

    2. For one thing Adam Jones refused to accept a trade to the Phillies last year at the trade deadline so it would appear that Philly is not his preferred destination..

      As far as the players go, McCutchen is a year younger, has a much higher career .OBP while offering similar power and defensive ability.

      Not sure what Jone’s contract demands are but player vs. player, McCutchen is the better player…

  19. Jim actually preemptively made a post on this situation, but am I misapplying it in thinking that the McCutchen signing, though it doesn’t cost a draft pick, costs international signing money?

  20. I was never crazy about any of the starting pitchers that were available this year, and I never, ever worry about the money. Corbin was the best of the group, but 6 years was insanity. Happ was the best fit for the Phillies, not because he was an upgrade, but because he could be had for 2 or 3 years. I really believe that Eflin, Velasquez and Eickhoff will be just as good, if not better than Happ. Starting pitching was never a top priority of mine. Building a formidable bullpen was my choice. The Phillies had over 20 blown holds or saves last year, and that number needs to be cut in half. The Phillies have already improved their bullpen, but adding Britton would be huge for them. He had a so-so year last year, but players coming off of a severe injury rarely perform well in the first year back. I know it’s not a popular theory around here, but I think that the starting rotation (we currently have 6 starters), and a bullpen bolstered by Britton and the previous additions will be fine. The offense and defense cost us way more games than the starting pitchers last year. The defense has been upgraded in LF, SS, and I guarantee Alfaro will be better. If/ when we add Harper or Machado, the offense will have 3 professional hitters in the line up. McCutchen replaces Santana’s numbers, Segura is an upgrade, and whichever Superstar they sign will improve the offense and defense. Once we land a big fish, all doubts that Klentak knows what he’s doing, will be a memory.

    1. I’m with ya overall, but if the Phils do miss out on both of the BIG two, I think they go into a bit of panic mode and try to trade for a big name to fit behind Nola–a Kluber/Bauer deal or another talk with AZ about Ray/Grienke, with either deal featuring Herrera + Vinny or Eflin + ?. Right now they don’t really need to pursue this option, as you mentioned, but I could easily see them being pushed in this direction if MM goes to NY and BH goes to LA.

    2. Improving the defense in 2 positions already will make for a more successful rotation, should all incumbents return next year with Eickhoff coming back from injury. If/when Machado and/or Harper get added, that will move the defense further from the bottom of the senior circuit. That alone is a reason to not overpay in years for the likes of Happ and only make a move that provides a clear upgrade with a TOR starter. If Kluber can be had for package of Vinny/Eflin/Pivetta, Williams and/or Franco with prospects, do it.

  21. I sort of get the mccutheon signing.

    I do not know why the Phillies are sitting on their hands regarding pitching watching … definitely need relief pitching …Joe Kelly now with LAD. Famelia being signed with the Mutts , the Mets are starting to build a nice little bullpen .

    Hope they’re planning on at least getting one power starter.. [LH] and a couple of good relievers .. they definitely need a more effetive BP

  22. You can squander a fortune on overpaid superstars. Money needs to be put into top-flight scouting and player development. Let’s not waste too many tears over Harper and Machado, if we never see them.

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