Giants introduce new right fielder: McCutchen

A staple in center with Pirates, former NL MVP shifts to corner, while Pence moves to left

January 16th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- The only way the Giants could feel more excited about acquiring would be if he covered adjacent outfield positions simultaneously.

The Giants introduced McCutchen to members of the local media on a conference call Tuesday, one day after the club obtained the five-time National League All-Star from the Pirates for right-hander and outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was unrestrained in his praise for McCutchen, who's expected to bolster the team's sagging offense with fellow veteran and offseason acquisition .

"I'm just thrilled. I am so excited. This is great news for us," said Bochy, who cited McCutchen's run production, speed and clubhouse presence before adding, "I believe we're not just getting a great player. We're getting a great teammate."

Bochy announced that McCutchen, who spent most of the nine previous seasons stationed in center field for Pittsburgh, will play right field, with incumbent right fielder moving to left.

"It's going to be almost like playing center field," McCutchen said of switching to right at AT&T Park, which is known for its oversized outfield acreage.

McCutchen made his first 13 starts last season in right field, then returned to center when received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. McCutchen remained in center after Marte's return.

McCutchen's aware that, according to advanced metrics, his defensive performance has declined. His dossier last year included a minus-14 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating.

However, McCutchen went from being, statistically, the Majors' worst center fielder in 2016 (negative-11 Outs Above Average) to middle-of-the-pack (zero OAA) in '17. He flashed his sense of humor as he discussed playing right field, where he has a scant track record.

"That's one of the things people can't pick on me, saying my defensive metrics are so bad," the 2013 NL MVP said.

McCutchen's shift left San Francisco with one remaining player-position priority: Securing a center fielder with enough range to handle AT&T Park's outfield.

The Giants have been linked to , perhaps the top center fielder available in free agency. But speculation persists that they're more likely to sign a lower-profile, lower-salaried free agent, such as , , or , to a one-year deal. Trading for Cincinnati's is another ongoing rumor. Sealing any of these potential deals would enable the Giants to steep their top center-field prospect, Steven Duggar, in Triple-A for one more season. MLB Pipeline has Duggar rated fifth among the organization's top 30 prospects.

"This is the time of year when you'd rather have Duggar in your back pocket, if you can, and work on some other things to bring in a center fielder who allows Duggar more time [to develop]," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said. "That said, we'll just continue to explore the different options. We're engaged in a number of scenarios right now."

While Evans juggles the possibilities, McCutchen, who's enormously popular in Pittsburgh, displayed admirable balance in bidding his former team farewell while joining the fold of his new one.

"There are a lot of emotions that come along with this," said McCutchen, 31. "To put it in a nutshell, we have a lot to be excited about and we have also ... a lot to be thankful for."

Joining the Giants, who eliminated the Pirates from the 2014 postseason with a 8-0 triumph in the NL Wild Card Game, was among the blessings McCutchen mentioned. He called them "an organization who knows what winning is all about."

Giants baseball operations czar Brian Sabean described the club's efforts to obtain McCutchen as a quest of sorts.

"This player has been kind of the apple of our eye in the offseason," Sabean said. "It was a dogged pursuit."