Cutch returns to Pirates on 1-year deal

January 20th, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- He’s back.

, the 2013 National League MVP and one of the most accomplished players in Pirates history, agreed to a one-year deal on Friday. Terms were not announced, but a source told that it's for $5 million. The team will host a news conference at 3:30 p.m. ET at PNC Park to re-introduce McCutchen.

"We are thrilled to be able to reunite with Andrew. His return just feels right. It is right for our team, for Andrew and his family, for our fans and for the game of baseball,” said Pirates chairman Bob Nutting in a statement. “Andrew is a special player and person. It is going to be exciting to again see him take the field wearing 22 in the black and gold.”

McCutchen needs no introduction in this city. The Pirates selected him with the 11th pick in the 2005 MLB Draft. Four years later, he was a Pirate. From 2009-17, McCutchen not only evolved into one of baseball’s premier outfielders, but the best Buc of the 21st century.

"Andrew means so much to the Pirates,” said Pirates general manager Ben Cherington. “His past contribution to the Pirates and Pittsburgh speaks for itself. Most importantly for 2023, we believe Andrew’s on-field skill, work ethic and experience are a great fit for our team.”

He earned five All-Star nominations. He took home four Silver Sluggers. A Gold Glove resides in his trophy cabinet, too. In 2013, McCutchen won the NL MVP Award as he led the Pirates to their first playoff berth in more than two decades.

On Jan. 15, 2018, the Pirates traded McCutchen to the Giants, along with cash considerations, for Bryan Reynolds, pitcher Kyle Crick and $500,000 in international bonus pool space. After San Francisco, McCutchen suited up for the Yankees, Phillies and Brewers, remaining a productive player at every stop.

Regardless of what road uniform he has donned over the past couple of years, McCutchen has been showered with applause when he comes back to PNC Park. Now, for the first time in more than half a decade, Pittsburgh will once again have the opportunity to cheer on No. 22 as he rocks the black and gold.

McCutchen is on the verge of accomplishing several personal milestones, sitting on 1,948 hits, 287 home runs, 392 doubles and 983 walks. Over a full season, McCutchen could very well reach 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, 400 doubles and 1,000 walks. Forty-three players have reached those milestones in AL/NL history, with Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto the only active players on the list.

McCutchen will see time at designated hitter and the corner-outfield positions. With Milwaukee, he played a career-low 53 games in the outfield -- 31 in left field and 19 in right field.

There’s also the aspect of mentorship. This offseason, the Pirates have supplemented their young, burgeoning core with a plethora of veterans. Rich Hill. Carlos Santana. Ji-Man Choi. Austin Hedges. Now, Pittsburgh can add McCutchen, who will be entering his 15th season, to the list. The Bucs' youth stands to learn a thing or three from the former MVP.

McCutchen’s decision to return to Pittsburgh could signal that this upcoming season will be his last.

In 2022, McCutchen was, by OPS+ and wRC+, a below-average hitter for the first time in his career. He posted a career-low .316 on-base percentage and a .384 slugging percentage as well. McCutchen will be 36 on Opening Day, and the homecoming might be an opportunity to close the loop and finish his career where it started.

Regardless of whether this may or may not be the end, this much is certain: Andrew McCutchen is, once again, a Pittsburgh Pirate.