The outfield market is buzzing with rumors at the moment, and one deal has just gone down in the NL Central: The Milwaukee Brewers have signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen and the Milwaukee Brewers are in agreement on a contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 14, 2022
McCutchen 35, was first linked to the Brewers earlier this afternoon, though it wasn’t yet clear how far along those talks were. Clearly, they were pretty advanced (though I suspect the outfield market is reacting to itself right now). Either way, Milwaukee has been looking for an outfield bat to shove into their lineup all offseason, and McCutchen should be an affordable option and a good presence in the clubhouse. I’m not looking forward to rooting against him. I’ve always liked McCutchen from afar.
But as far as the bat and glove goes, well, there’s much to be desired.
Yes, McCutchen has still never checked in as a below-average offensive contributor by wRC+, but his overall production last season (107 wRC+) and in 2020 (102 wRC+) are a far cry from the 120 wRC+ marks he posted from 2017-2019 and the MVP-caliber bat he once had in Pittsburgh. He also struck out at a career-high 23% last season and his defensive metrics have fallen way off the board. All told, ZiPS projects him as just a 1.0 WAR player in 2022.
As of now, the Brewers outfield is already patrolled by Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain/Tyrone Taylor, and Hunter Renfroe, but with the addition of the designated hitter, I’m sure they’ll find a way to mix and match and get a little bit more out of that group.
As for the NL Central implications, well the Brewers are probably something like the favorites with or without McCutchen, but given that they were also once connected to Kyle Schwarber and Nelson Cruz (two far better hitters), I’d say this is a marginal win for anyone that has designs on overtaking them this season.
As for my mention of that buzzing outfield market, note that the Cubs are meeting with Seiya Suzuki tonight, the Blue Jays are making a strong push for Kyle Schwarber, and the Rockies are getting serious with Kris Bryant, with talks already reaching the ownership level.