11:07am: Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets that the Yankees’ interest in McCutchen is “soft.” They’re expected to add an outfielder today, he adds, but it doesn’t appear that McCutchen is high on the list of targets at this time.
Meanwhile, Bob Nightengale tweets that the Giants do not expect to move McCutchen at all today.
8:22am: The Yankees, Phillies and Indians are all showing “varying levels of interest” in Giants outfielder Andrew McCutchen, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, who writes that San Francisco is more open to moving potential free agents than it was earlier this summer. On the other hand, Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweets that while the Giants may indeed consider a move involving McCutchen, he doesn’t believe the team would seriously consider doing so until next month in a potential waiver deal. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle strikes a similar tone, tweeting that Giants are actually still looking at adding to their outfield or rotation in an effort to improve the team’s 2018 chances.
The Giants, of course, have slipped in the NL West standings this month, though they’re still just five and a half games back of the division lead. The reported possibility of surgery for right-hander Johnny Cueto doesn’t do any favors for the team’s hopes of climbing back up the standings, but GM Bobby Evans and president Brian Sabean have never been overly inclined to send their team into “sell” mode in the past.
It’s not hard to see why any of the teams listed by Morosi would at least have interest in McCutchen, though the Yankees’ need may be too short-term in nature for a player like McCutchen. New York has reportedly been seeking an extra outfield bat with Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier on the shelf, but McCutchen would be a costly addition (financially speaking) and crowd the team’s outfield mix in fairly notable fashion if and when Judge is ready to return next month.
Cleveland and Philadelphia, meanwhile, both showed some interest in Adam Jones but have come to learn that he’s unlikely to waive his 10-and-5 no-trade protection. As such, both have been tied to other bats on the market in recent days. The Indians, in particular, are said to be focusing on an upgrade in center field, though McCutchen is clearly better-suited for corner outfield work at this stage of his career.
McCutchen, 31, is earning $14.75MM this year in his final season before reaching free agency for the first time in his career. He’s enjoyed a solid season at the plate, though his offensive output hasn’t been anywhere near his peak levels, when he was the 2013 NL MVP and widely considered to be among the game’s best all-around players. In 454 plate appearances with San Francisco, McCutchen is hitting .258/.352/.407 with 10 homers, 24 doubles and a pair of triples — still above the league average (especially considering his cavernous home park) but no longer at elite levels.
For the Giants, there’d be some financial incentive in moving McCutchen, as shedding the remainder of his salary (roughly $4.84MM) would help to ensure that they remain south of the $197MM luxury tax threshold. But, doing so would also thin their outfield mix and serve as a gut-punch in the clubhouse. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem likely that the Giants will opt to deal McCutchen prior to the non-waiver deadline, though the interest in him and the potential for a move down the line are of at least some note.