The Dodgers and Rays are among the teams with interest in free agent outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. As Olney points out, McCutchen could very well topple a couple of career milestones in 2023, as he’s 52 hits shy of 2000 and 13 long balls away from the 300 mark.
McCutchen, 36, spent the 2022 season with the Brewers, for whom he slashed at a .237/.316/.384 pace through 580 trips to the plate. It was an uneven season for the 2013 NL MVP, as he stumbled out of the gates with a poor two-month stretch before catching fire in June and ultimately wilting again in the season’s final seven to eight weeks.
McCutchen’s run early in the summer at least showed that there’s still life in his bat — inconsistent as the production may be. The endpoints here are arbitrary, and any player can look better when focusing only on his hottest stretch of the season, but for a period of 262 plate appearances beginning on June 5, McCutchen mashed at a .288/.370/.498 pace, slugging 11 homers and 15 doubles along the way. Of course, it’s only fair to also point out that said hot streak was preceded by an absolutely frigid spell in which he collected just one hit in a span of 39 trips to the plate.
The peaks and valleys of McCutchen’s 2022 season resulted in a 98 wRC+ and 99 OPS+, suggesting that he was just barely shy of average at the plate for the season as a whole. Part of the downturn in production for McCutchen, who batted a combined .237/.343/.444 as a Phillie from 2019-21 (109 wRC+), was that his longstanding production against southpaws evaporated in 2022. McCutchen is career .300 hitter with a .936 OPS and 154 wRC+ against lefties, even including last year’s struggles, but this past season’s .221/.303/.434 slash when holding the platoon advantage was miles shy of his career standard.
On the defensive side of the coin, McCutchen played just 434 innings in the outfield, most coming in left — although the Brewers gave him 13 innings in center and 153 in right. Defensive Runs Saved (4), Ultimate Zone Rating (1.8) and Outs Above Average (0) all thought he was at least serviceable, if not a net positive in his limited work with the glove. However, McCutchen spent 82 games as Milwaukee’s designated hitter, too. It’s possible another team would view him as a viable option to log a larger workload in the outfield, but a return to his days of pllaying 1300-1400 innings in the outfield seems like a reach, given his age and recent usage.
In Los Angeles, McCutchen could give the Dodgers a right-handed complement to lefty-swinging 25-year-old James Outman, who had a huge season in the upper minors and also impressed in a tiny MLB debut (16 plate appearances). Tampa Bay is more set in the outfield but could still use McCutchen as a right-handed option off the bench, mixing him in for occasional work in the outfield corners and at designated hitter. It’s worth noting that McCutchen is a native of Fort Meade, Fla. and attended Fort Meade High School — about 75 miles from the Rays’ Tropicana Field.
McCutchen played the 2022 season on a one-year, $8.5MM contract, and it seems quite likely that he’ll be ticketed for another one-year deal wherever he lands — be it with the Dodgers, Rays or another team.