Not the serial killer. I mean, maybe he can. I don’t know what Andrew McCutchen’s range is, nor his tastes. I wouldn’t rule it out.
Anyway, if the Cubs miss out on Bryce Harper, or respectfully decline to hand over literally a bank safe to him, but still want to make a change in their outfield, Cutch is going to be mentioned. He’s certainly a player they’re familiar with. One question would be how badly does Cutch want to be a Cub/want to avoid ripping out the hearts of all Pirates fans, seasoning it with paprika, and eating in front of them. That’s if Bucs fans can still feel anything anymore.
That’s not really the Cubs’ concern. Would Cutch be a good move?
Position: He’ll say right field. You can probably get away with that. His future is almost certainly in left, especially at Wrigley. Where that future begins is nebulous.
2018: 568 PA, .255/.357/.415, 15 HR, 13 SB, 73 BB, 123 SO, .289 TAv, 1.9 WARP
How He Fits: The Cubs will likely have a need or vacancy in right field, whether Jason Heyward is moved to center to platoon with Albert Almora, play it himself, or is locked in a box marked “To Timbuktu.” The Cubs haven’t gotten enough out of the outfield offensively the past couple years, which is why the Harper rumors have been so loud.
There’s been a theory that the Cubs really haven’t recovered from losing Dexter Fowler after the World Series. Here’s the thing: McCutchen has had Fowler’s ’16 offensive season the past two seasons. Fowler had a TAv of .313 that year, and Cutch has put up a .303 mark in 2017, a .289 mark with the Giants in 2018, and a .316 mark with the Yankees. Fowler had a .393 OBP in 2016, and Cutch hasn’t quite matched that, but he has been above .360 the past two seasons. And really, the Cubs have been screaming for a .360 or better OBP from center or right the past two seasons.
Cutch provides a small bump in speed, though he’s not what he was. But the Cubs are more interested in guys who can get first-to-third or second-to-home rather than steals, and Cutch can do that.
His glove also isn’t what it was, and he can’t play center anymore. His numbers in right are ugly this season, but he spent most of it manning the National Park that is right field in San Francisco. Right field is no picnic in Wrigley—broadcasters keep telling us so—but it is a lot less ground to cover. And McCutchen is at least familiar with it.
Perhaps more encouragingly, McCutchen’s contact numbers have improved. His hard-contact and line-drive rates both went up this year, so perhaps his lack of slugging was due to a BABIP that was 20 points lower than his career mark. Either way, he’s an interesting outfield piece who is still pretty good, despite being several years removed from his MVP peak.
Why It Won’t Work: Well, there are a few problems. One, Cutch is 32. Which is more and more thought of the cliff that baseball careers go flinging off of thanks to being unable to deal with the game’s increasing and silly velocity. This is also a day he’s been pointing toward, and it’s hard to imagine he’s going to take a one- or two- or even a three-year deal. You could easily end up with two Jason Heyward-like, immovable outfielders (with, you know, one being Heyward) if you commit to him for more than a couple years.
Second, Cutch’s power has waned. His .424 SLG was a career low, and you wonder how that would improve at 32 and 33 years old. Maybe you’re not requiring Cutch to hit for much power if you add it elsewhere, which you would kind of have to. Then again, he slugged .430 three seasons ago and popped back up with .486 in 2017. Maybe he has a revival in him again? The contact numbers suggest he could.
Third, he might not be able to cover right for more than this season, which means you have to do something with Schwarber. And we’ve been over that.
Alternatives: The big-ticket item of Bryce Harper, obviously. The probably similarly priced options of Nick Markakis or Michael Brantley.
Lead photo via @TheCUTCH22 on Twitter