With the Giants slipping to a distant fourth place in the NL West, the team’s decision to place veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen on waivers yesterday may be the starting point of at least a light, late-August sell-off. Though the San Francisco organization obviously could still pull McCutchen back — particularly in the seemingly unlikely event that the team is still considering making him a qualifying offer — there’s good reason to think that it may decide instead to let him join another club with brighter hopes the rest of the season.
McCutchen is still owed in the neighborhood of $3MM for the remainder of the season — hardly an insignificant amount of money. It’s enough, certainly, to force any team considering a move to think hard about whether the veteran is really a worthwhile upgrade and compelling fit.
Teams weighing whether to make a claim, or to pursue a swap if McCutchen clears waivers, will surely be assessing just what version of the former superstar they’d likely receive. He’s showing less power than ever before but has been a quality on-base threat and above-average overall hitter. Given his diminished all-around capabilities, that’s not a particularly compelling package, though teams will surely also value McCutchen’s leadership attributes.
Notably, though, measures of his batted-ball quality suggest that Cutch is stinging the ball — perhaps making him a candidate to experience some positive regression down the stretch. Some clubs may also believe the power downturn could be righted in part by moving McCutchen to a more hitter-friendly home park.
In any event, the bottom line is that McCutchen is no longer a premium performer who’s good enough to force a fit on any roster. He’s playing at about a 2 WAR annual pace this season (per both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference), so even a Statcast-believing optimist would closely consider fit and value.
Here are a few organizations that make some amount of sense at a glance. (Links to Roster Resource depth charts; teams presented in alphabetical order.)
- Astros: Suddenly engaged in a divisional dogfight, the defending World Series champs are no doubt looking for ways to get better in the final days of August. Whether McCutchen is the optimal target is certainly debatable, but the corner outfield mix is heavy on left-handed hitters (Josh Reddick, Tony Kemp, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher) and a switch-hitter (Marwin Gonzalez) who is better against right-handed pitching.
- Athletics: Having surged into a first-place tie with the aforementioned Houston club, the A’s are surely perusing the wire for possibilities. Though the focus is on pitching, McCutchen would be a fairly clean fit on this roster. While youth has carried the club to this point, there are some questions surrounding some of the right-handed-hitting elements of the current outfield mix. In particular, Mark Canha has had a tough three-week stretch while Ramon Laureno was scuffling before a two-dinger outing last night. While the A’s would perhaps prefer to add a true center fielder, it’s hardly clear that there’s one to be found on this market.
- Braves: McCutchen would be an improved version of the recently-acquired Adam Duvall, who has struggled badly since arriving in Atlanta but could still be optioned. It’s not exactly a pressing need, but might be an interesting way to provide a boost for a club that still has work to do to secure a surprising division title.
- Cubs: With the offense sagging a bit of late, the Cubbies are no doubt at least considering a lineup infusion. Adding McCutchen would create some additional matchup possibilities in the outfield while perhaps freeing the club to reduce the role of struggling shortstop Addison Russell. Of course, the Cubs may also feel it’d unnecessarily clog their roster to add another righty corner bat with Kris Bryant hopefully nearing a return and the surprising David Bote still available.
- Indians: As recently-acquired outfielder Leonys Martin battles a serious health issue, the Indians have had to go back to the drawing board to boost their outfield mix and improve their overall offensive profile in advance of the playoffs. The club is said to have pursued Adam Jones, another former up-the-middle superstar who’s still respected but is now best suited to playing the corner outfield and is no longer quite as compelling a presence at the plate. McCutchen is arguably a better target, and unlike Jones does not have no-trade protection.
- Mariners: The Seattle org already picked up a right-handed outfield bat in Cameron Maybin, but he’s struggling. McCutchen wouldn’t likely represent an option in center, but perhaps the club could utilize him as part of the corner mix while bumping Dee Gordon back into the outfield and deploying Robinson Cano more regularly at second base. While the M’s continue to outperform expectations, they are looking at a tough path to the postseason and need to squeeze out every bit of value they can down the stretch if they hope to qualify.
- Phillies: The Phils reportedly also chased Jones. As explained above, then, Cutch also seems a reasonable target. He’d likely take the lion’s share of time in right field in Philadelphia while adding another sturdy clubhouse asset to a mostly youthful team.
- Rockies: The Colorado organization is right in the thick of things. But its outfield mix hasn’t been a strength. More importantly, it is overloaded with left-handed hitters. Adding a veteran righty bat would make lots of sense. And bringing in such a high-profile player would surely generate loads of interest in Colorado.
- Yankees: The Yanks are showing patience as Aaron Judge heals up, as they seem destined for a Wild Card game barring a near-unfathomable swing in either direction. Still, the club has to be considering some lineup boosts. Adding McCutchen could be viewed as part of a plan to shift some players around and reduce the role of first baseman Greg Bird, though perhaps there are better ways to accomplish that.
So, which do you think is likeliest to land McCutchen? (Link for app users.)
Indians are obvious except I don’t know if he’ll clear the NL.
dimitrios in la
The A’s are a logical choice since cutch could replace a struggling or scuffling player.
Wahoo What a Finish!
He wouldn’t get to the A’s in the waiver wire order before the Indians could put a claim in
A’s have Fowler in AAA hitting almost .500 the last 2 weeks. There is no need for him on the A’s. Second the Giants do not trade with the A’s.
Billy Beane has made a trade with every GM since 1998. With the exception of the crusty old Sabean. I don’t think it starts now.
Now the question is do you think this is coincidental or something more juicy? Best case scenario is that Beane banged his wife years ago and Sabean is looking for Highlander style revenge.
It’s okay if the Giants do a sell off – according to Tim Britton, of the Athletic, they will simply out-duel the Mets this coming offseason on minor league signings. Perhaps they can nab Matt Den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis to replace him Mccutchen. One or the other may just play to a 0.00001 WAR.
Bryan c, stupid comment. Uh, they’re obviously gonna spend some money this offseason or they wouldn’t worry about the tax this year.
Bro, it was a joke from that idiotic article written by Tim Britton. I don’t think it’s so stupid to point out the dude talked a big game about minor league signings but here we are 4 months later begging anyone to claim the high priced acquisition the same talent scouts advised. But cool opinion, bro.
Kirk’s family is from the Bay, a reunion with either the Giants or A’s could put a chip on his shoulder
Lol the Yankees don’t need him this year
Gardner Stanton Hicks plus Judge will be back
Bench, starter LF against Lefties..
I like the Indians and Phillies as fits.
As I do like Justin Smoak’s swing, and the way he is capableof scooping up a crappy throw to first, I also like Cutch for the outfield, especially when I think some of our players need one heck of a rest!! He has to be good for some help.
Maybe Cashman will go for him, although he did make a statement last week about no one available as an extra bat out there is exactly
high caliber.. Wow, cannot believe he just came out and said that. He also stated that is of course the reason why he wouldn’t give any one up for a bat.
HELLLO Cash, we are in a dog fight for that WC, GET AN EXTRA BAT..GEEZE.and please tell Judge to stop abusing his right hand/wrist in the dugout every time someone hits a homer, base hit, makes an awesome catch, and throws strike 3 when in trouble..My God, his hand should have been in a wrap or something, or a soft cast
No, lol, I am not a Dr, just a frustrated fan, Watch him in the dugout..
I feel better I vented!
Braves? Hmm idk… not exactly what I want to see us go get right now
Greg Allen and Melky Cabrera are both starting to hit now, both are switch-hitters, so I can’t see the need for him in Cleveland.
Putting ur faith on a recently hot melky for a playoff run, CLE 18 it is
Wahoo What a Finish!
Yeah you are out of your mind if you think Greg Allen is ready to play in October. We need Cutch because he can handle the high leverage situations in playoff baseball.
Uh, we’re only in August right now. Plenty of time for Allen to gain more experience.
Or do you want to continually go the “bring in the aging, declining vet” route? How’s that worked out in the past? Do we have a WS championship yet by going that route?
i could see Milwaukee going after him, maybe putting him at 3B
Can your mom make me a sandwich, Ray?
I don’t see him making it to an AL club. So, I’ll go with the Phillies.
Has McCutchen not been good enough to get a QO?
Not in my opinion, no.
And most people agree with that.
Considering that it seems like the Giants outfield situation has pretty much been a tire fire for the last few years, bringing back Cutch wouldn’t be the worst idea.. There’s no way a team that’s up against the luxury tax limit should be offering a QO to him, but if they traded him this week and then tried to resign him during the off season for a reasonable contract, I’m sure that Giants fans would welcome him back..
They won’t be against the line next year. They just need to be under so it’s less of a penalty if they go over next year.
Cutch is one of my favorite players but the Giants would be a bit foolish to offer him a QO at this point. He’s having arguably his worst season statistically and the Giants are likely looking at a partial rebuild if not a complete blowing up of the roster. I don’t think that McCutchen is done by any means, but he’s not a guy you build around, he’s a solid complementary piece who should be traded to a contender if possible.
I don’t know why you would say the McCutchen would receive the lions share of the playing time in RF if the Phillies were to acquire him. Compare his stats to Nick Williams:
Andrew McCutchen: .257/.354/.414, 14, 53, 114 SO in 122 games.
Nick Williams: .264/.330/.454, 17, 49, 96 SO in 115 games.
renegadescoach: One has to hit in SF, the other in that tiny Phillies park, half the time. Apples and Oranges
Cutch has been a class act for SF well and also for Pittsburg too. I would like to see him stick around but not sure SF can afford him. Selfishly I don’t want SF to trade him just because I’d like to see him continue to play for SF for the rest of the year. The game needs more classy players like him.
Seesh…let’s not worry about classy players and fan favorites; SF has had several player friendly contracts (over the years) that have put us in this predicament. Pence/Cain’s contract. Belt/Crawford’s contract. Not to mention Longoria’s overpay at age 55. Bumgarner has the only club friendly contract on the books, and unless you want to get rid of him and we can’t keep re-signing players like Cutch. Sit tight, wait for a short re-build, wait for Joey BART to come up the ranks…and we can be back in the mix in a few years. I swear Giants fans greed only gets you .500 teams. Go support the young kids at one of the coolest parks in baseball, have a cha cha bowl and…