LAS VEGAS -- Andrew McCutchen is not the former National League MVP that everybody expected the Phillies to sign this offseason.
But the Phillies announced Wednesday night that they had agreed to terms with McCutchen on a three-year, $50 million contract. The deal includes a $15 million club option, with a $3 million buyout for 2022.
"I think Andrew McCutchen has been incredibly consistent and incredibly healthy, and I think his skill set is one that in baseball history has aged pretty well," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "I have incredible respect for what he has accomplished in his career. His Baseball Reference page is littered with MVP, multitime All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger -- you name it."
It is why the Phillies said they never blinked at offering McCutchen a three-year deal.
"Honestly, that was never a huge sticking point on our end," Klentak said.
The move upgrades another position for the Phillies, following the recent acquisitions of shortstop Jean Segura and relief pitchers Juan Nicasio, James Pazos and Jose Alvarez. It remains to be seen what else the Phillies accomplish this offseason. They remain in the hunt for free-agent superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, although the Phillies said they have a "walkaway" point with both players. Still, they met with the agents for both players this week at the Winter Meetings. The Phillies had not met with Harper, despite the fact he lives in town. Machado is scheduled to visit the Phillies next week.
• The latest on Machado, Harper
The Phillies continue to pursue left-handed relievers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. It is unclear if they will find a starter, particularly with J.A. Happ reportedly headed to the Yankees. The Phillies could still find an outfielder, even if Harper signs elsewhere.
The Phillies are deeper in the outfield with McCutchen. He is not the player that won the 2013 NL MVP Award with the Pirates, but he continues to hit. He batted a combined .255 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and a .792 OPS last season with the Giants and Yankees. He posted an .892 OPS in 114 plate appearances with the Yankees.
McCutchen recorded a 123 wRC+ in 2017 and a 118 wRC+ in '18. Rhys Hoskins was the only Phillies player last season (minimum 150 plate appearances) with a 110 wRC+ or better.
McCutchen essentially replaces Carlos Santana's bat in the lineup. McCutchen was 12th among qualified hitters in walk rate last season (13.9 percent). His chase rate (15.9 percent) ranked third lowest out of 226 batters (minimum 750 pitches seen out of the zone), according to Statcast™. His hard-hit rate has remained consistent the past three seasons: 42.1 percent in 2016, 38.3 percent in '17 and 41.8 percent in '18. His wOBA was .329 in '16, .360 in '17 and .347 in '18.
"You look at players with similar abilities and similar track records, how did those players age, and I think when you look at guys like Andrew who are talented in so many ways, they have more opportunity to impact the games," Klentak said. "This guy can run, he can throw, he can play the outfield, he puts the bat on the ball, he's got one of the better batting eyes and walk rates in baseball. He's got plus makeup. He does everything well."
The Phillies believe the move to Citizens Bank Park will help McCutchen's defense, too. He played much of the last two seasons in spacious PNC Park and AT&T Park.
"We think both offensively and defensively, moving from the ballparks he's played in to Philadelphia should help him," Klentak said.
Steamer and ZiPS project McCutchen for 2.6 WAR in 2019 and 6.3 combined WAR over the next three seasons. That profiles to roughly $50 million in value.
Fifty million still leaves the Phillies plenty of financial flexibility to sign Machado, whom they would love to play third base, or Harper. But McCutchen's deal drove home a point that Klentak made earlier this week: The Phillies will not be held hostage by one or two players this offseason. They want Machado or Harper, but they will not wait for them before they make other moves, either.
"When we began this process, and as it became more serious, we started to do some more vetting on the person, on the teammate, on the character of the player, and you cannot find anybody in this industry to say anything bad about this player," Klentak said of McCutchen. "It's all positive -- his work ethic, his teammate behavior, the way he posts, the way that he hustles and plays every day. It's a great fit for us."