The Pirates announced to reporters, including Justice delos Santos of MLB.com, that outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen is going on the 10-day injured list due to a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon. McCutchen will be in a walking boot for the next six weeks, meaning his season is done with less than four weeks now remaining on the schedule. The club later officially announced McCutchen’s IL placement with infielder Jared Triolo recalled in a corresponding move.
McCutchen, 36, returned to the Pirates this season on a one-year, $5MM deal. He had spent his prime with the Bucs but eventually bounced to the Giants, Yankees, Phillies and Brewers as the Pirates underwent a rebuild and gave most of the playing time to younger players. But he was able to don the black and gold again this year, serving as a veteran presence for a young team on the rise.
That’s not to say that his position on the roster was merely ceremonial, as he’s actually been the club’s best hitter this year. He’s drawn walks in 15.9% of his plate appearances and hit 12 home runs. His .256/.378/.397 batting line amounts to a wRC+ of 115, indicating he’s been 15% better than the league average hitter this year, the highest mark on the club among those with at least 10 plate appearances.
The Bucs are well out of contention at this point but it’s nonetheless a tough pill to swallow, given his popularity among the fans and around baseball in general. He’s also currently sitting on 299 home runs, meaning he won’t have a chance to cross that milestone this year.
Although that’s surely frustrating, it seems possible he’ll have a chance to hit that marker next year. He has continually been open about his desire to return to the Pirates next year and reiterated that stance today, via delos Santos. He seems to have a good relationship with the franchise, making it fair to expect the two sides to reunite on another deal for 2024. The injury creates some cloudiness about his status, but if the six weeks in the walking boot get him back to health, he should be in line to have a fairly normal offseason and Spring Training.
Defensively, McCutchen was primarily a designated hitter this year, only heading to the outfield for 64 2/3 innings. Though the club might want to give some playing time to younger players, they could surely find some at-bats for their best offensive contributor this year, especially considering his iconic status in Pittsburgh.