It wasn't a return to MVP form for Andrew McCutchen in 2017, but he did bounce back considerably and in turn quieted the naysayers (for now). Much was made of the wear and tear on McCutchen's lower half from all the years of patrolling center field, but he generated good bat speed last season, posting the second-highest home-run total of his career. He did that despite nursing a nagging thumb injury during the summer months. McCutchen trimmed his strikeout rate by more than three percentage points and added back to his walk rate, resulting in a .360 wOBA (.354 xwOBA). While he did fade down the stretch with a .260/.341/.433 line in the second half while taking a slight step back on the whole against right-handed pitching, McCutchen proved he still has something left in the tank as he enters his age-31 campaign. In January, the Giants acquired him from the Pirates for Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds, and it's expected that McCutchen will stabilize a San Francisco outfield that desperately needed upgrades after a dismal 2017 campaign.
McCutchen is 5-for-13 (.385) for the Giants this spring. One of the Giants' prized offseason acquisitions has gotten off to solid start with his new club. McCutchen still hasn't delivered an extra-base hit, but the key for the veteran outfielder is that he is healthy and he has his timing down early in camp. The move to AT&T Park is never a positive for a hitter, but the 31-year-old managed to club 28 home runs while playing home games at PNC Park, which ranked in the bottom third in terms of park factors for long balls in 2017. The days of McCutchen being a 20/20 threat are in the rearview mirror, but the right fielder should be able to reach the 20-homer mark with a solid batting average and healthy counting stats while batting in the middle of San Francisco's revamped lineup.
McCutchen, who was acquired by the Giants on Monday via trade, was told he'll play a corner outfield spot for his new club in 2018, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. While McCutchen has primarily played center field throughout his professional career, the 31-year-old isn't completely unfamiliar with the corner outfield; he spent the first 13 games of the 2017 campaign in right field before a suspension to Starling Marte allowed him to shift back to center. It sounds like McCutchen will play right field with Hunter Pence lining up opposite him. With McCutchen and Pence situated in the corners, the Giants could look to bring in a center fielder from outside the organization or turn to prospect Steven Duggar.
McCutchen was traded to the Giants on Monday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The deal is reportedly all but done, pending an exchange of medical information, and according to Andrew Baggarly of The San Jose Mercury News, the Pirates will receive Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds in return. McCutchen bounced back last season after his lackluster 2016 campaign, hitting .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers and 11 stolen bases across 156 games. While the 31-year-old likely won't return to his MVP form, he proved he still has something left in the tank and figures to play an important role for the Giants this season.
The Pirates picked up McCutchen's $14.5 million club option for 2018 on Friday, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports. McCutchen will return to Pittsburgh for another season following this announcement, as the 31-year-old underwent an up-and-down season in 2017. All in all, he wound up slashing .279/.363/.486 with 28 home runs and 88 RBI, and he hit .361 after May 26.
McCutchen was named the NL Player of the Week after hitting .471 with two homers and nine RBI. His final slash line (.279/.363/.486) doesn't do justice to the roller coaster ride in 2017. The soon-to-be 31-year-old slashed .361/.464/.652 over a 64-game stretch starting May 26, but he slumped for month-long stretches on multiple occasions. The Pirates hold a team option for $14.5 million in 2018, but the organization could decide to trade him or simply let him walk. Most likely, Pittsburgh will exercise the option and keep him for one last run in 2018. General manager Neal Huntington refused to tip his hand as to what direction the team might take with McCutchen, saying during his radio show Sunday that he'll announce plans surrounding McCutchen's option shortly after the end to the World Series. If McCutchen remains with the Pirates, it's expected that he'll return to center field on a full-time basis.
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