Giant move: SF acquires McCutchen from Pirates

Club adds former NL MVP to lineup in exchange for prospects Reynolds, Crick, international slot money

January 15th, 2018

The Giants reaffirmed their win-now approach with Monday's acquisition of , while the Pirates maintained their focus on the future by trading the popular outfielder for right-hander and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds.
The Giants broke a lot of hearts in Pittsburgh by obtaining McCutchen, who had become synonymous with baseball in that city during his nine-year tenure there, and cash considerations. This followed San Francisco's Dec. 20 move that sent four players to Tampa Bay for third baseman , who evolved into the Rays' most popular everyday performer.

"Andrew is a remarkable talent and will be a difference maker in our lineup," Giants senior vice president and general manager Bobby Evans said in a news release. "We're honored to have him and look forward to seeing him in a Giants uniform."

The Giants sent Pittsburgh $500,000 in international bonus pool space, while according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, the Bucs will pay $2.5 million of the $14.5 million McCutchen is owed in 2018, the last year of his contract.
San Francisco hopes it has upgraded the club's offense by adding McCutchen as well as Longoria. The Giants ranked last in the Majors a season ago in home runs (128) and slugging percentage (.380), and they were next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309). No Giants player managed to hit 20 home runs last year, a figure that McCutchen has exceeded for seven consecutive seasons. Longoria has hit 20 or more homers in all but one of his 10 big league seasons.
• McCutchen's new teammates very excited
"It's no secret that we were looking to further add run production to our lineup," Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said in the news release. "Anytime you have the opportunity to bring aboard someone with such a track record, you have to jump on it."
Securing both veterans reflected the Giants' intent to improve upon their performance in 2017, when they finished last in the National League West. Their 64-98 record was their second-worst since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.

McCutchen, 31, has slipped from the form that earned him National League Most Valuable Player honors in 2013. However, after posting career lows in batting average (.256) and OPS (.766) in 2016, the five-time All-Star rebounded last season to hit .279 with an .849 OPS, garnished by 28 home runs and 88 RBIs.
"Andrew is a dynamic player on the field and will be a leader in our clubhouse," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He's always been a threat at the plate, and he's a guy you don't ever want to deal with, whether he's at the plate or on the bases; he's going to make something happen."
McCutchen expressed his gratitude toward Pirates fans through Twitter.

"There is simply nothing easy about this decision," Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said in a club statement. "It is one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure. Not only because of the type of player Andrew is, but also because of Andrew the person and for what he has meant to me personally, to our organization, to our fans, and to our community. It has been an honor to see first-hand Andrew grow into the man that he is today."
• GIFs of McCutchen's best plays

The position McCutchen will occupy is uncertain. He played exclusively center field until last year, when he started 13 games in right. According to Statcast™, McCutchen was assigned zero Outs Above Average (OAA) last season. That reflected a significant improvement over 2016, when he recorded a negative-11 OAA. However, McCutchen also checked in with a negative-14 Defensive Runs Saved and a negative-4.5 Ultimate Zone Rating. These factors, combined with the oversized dimensions of AT&T Park's outfield, make McCutchen a candidate to play a corner spot.
That conceivably leaves the Giants still searching for a center fielder. Like most teams, the Giants would prefer to keep their player payroll under $197 million to avoid paying into the luxury tax and limiting their economic flexibility.

Adding McCutchen's salary for 2018 won't push the Giants over the limit. But they likely would break the $197 million ceiling by signing a relatively pricey free agent -- specifically, -- to play center. That doesn't include the second- and fifth-round Draft choices the Giants would forfeit by signing Cain, as well as the $1 million reduction in their pool for international bonus money.
Thus, with center-field prospect Steven Duggar said to be slightly less than a year away from being ready for the Majors, the Giants might try to upgrade the position with a relatively affordable free agent, such as , or . Trading for Cincinnati speedster also remains an option.
Meanwhile, the Pirates continued to expand their supply of unproven yet promising players, as was the case Saturday when they traded right-hander to Houston for four prospects.
The Giants crowed that they secured a player with first-round talent when they selected Reynolds, 22, in the second round of the 2016 Draft. But the emergence of Duggar, who's rated San Francisco's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, made it easier for the organization to part with the switch-hitting Reynolds, who batted .312 with 10 home runs and 63 RBIs for Class A Advanced San Jose last year.
Crick, 25, made his Major League debut last season and recorded a 3.06 ERA in 30 games. He limited opponents to a .191 batting average.

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Given the Pirates and Giants both have pitcher-friendly home parks and ranked among the bottom five Major League clubs in runs scored last season, the move to San Francisco will not change McCutchen's fantasy value significantly. Having hit .279 with 28 homers, 88 RBIs, 94 runs and 11 steals in '17, the veteran still profiles as a top 20 fantasy outfielder who can make solid across-the-board contributions. He joins a Giants club that also added Longoria this offseason, providing with the support he needs to remain among the top three catcher assets heading into 2018 drafts. Meanwhile, McCutchen's departure from Pittsburgh slightly lowers the value of , and Josh Bell. Moreover, is less likely to rank among the saves leaders after the Pirates traded two core players (McCutchen and Cole) in recent days.