I have always really liked Andrew McCutchen as a player and a person, so I’m a sucker for a “return home” like this.
McCutchen is heading back to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent the first 13 years of his professional career:
In 2005, the Pirates drafted McCutchen with the 11th overall pick, and when he arrived in the big leagues in 2009 at age 22, he was already a star. His post-Pirates days, all in his 30s, have been more complementary than star, but he’s still a useful player and presence to have around. Heck, this past season with the Brewers was the first of his career under a 100 wRC+, and it was merely a 98.
I’m sure the Pirates will get extra value out of McCutchen, 36, because of the connection to the city and the team. He’s also gotta be a great mentor and leader for that young team. It’s just nice to see him back with the Pirates.
As for the implications side of things, certainly the Pirates get slightly better, though to actually be competitive this year, they’re going to have to see explosive breakouts from a number of their top prospects. It’s certainly possible – they’re loaded – but it’s probably still a year or two or three away. (Seriously, though, them and the Reds … you can’t be this bad for this long without accumulating quite a cache of top prospects. Whether they convert that into a good big league team remains to be seen, but their systems are truly stacked.)
Immediately folks will wonder if adding McCutchen is a hedge in center field against the Pirates trading Bryan Reynolds, who is firmly on the block. Could be. But it’s probably not a direct 1-to-1, since McCutchen hasn’t played defensively in center field in three years.