Andrew McCutchen is a sneaky-good free agent option for MLB teams in search of a productive veteran outfielder. The 35-year-old remains a respectable everyday player who hits for power and holds down left field. All the while, he’s fully capable of playing center and right field, too.
McCutchen likely signs a team-friendly deal after the MLB lockout given his age. Him having not won a World Series likely leads him to a contender. One way or another, the 2013 National League MVP is poised to be a savvy pickup for some team.
Here are three ideal free agent destinations for Andrew McCutchen.
3) Andrew McCutchen beefs up the St. Louis Cardinals
All in all, the Cardinals got respectable production from their starting outfield in 2021. At the same time, the collective combination of Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson and others have been inconsistent in recent memory. McCutchen gives new manager Oliver Marmol depth.
The veteran can either start in one of the corner outfield positions or serve as a fourth outfielder for the Cardinals. Again: the Cardinals’ outfield has been inconsistent, opening the door for McCutchen to eventually start even if he’s not in the opening day lineup.
Despite having a lineup card of stars in their prime and compelling young players, the Cardinals’ offense has continually been a lacking unit from a production standpoint in each of the last three years. With that in mind, they can’t have enough offense.
- Andrew McCutchen stats (2021): .222/.334/.444, 27 home runs and 80 RBIs across 482 at-bats
McCutchen gives them a steady and consistent hitter from the right side who brings some playoff experience to the table. St. Louis logged a mere run in the 2021 NL Wild Card Game. McCutchen gives them another player who can set the table for those behind him and/or generate offense on his own.
All that being said, the Cardinals may continue to hold out hope that their offense improves while making a hefty commitment in a starting pitcher instead of McCutchen.
2) Andrew McCutchen returns to the Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have two vacant outfield positions. One of them is created by McCutchen’s free agency and can be filled by him staying in Philly for the foreseeable future.
McCutchen is a model of consistency at the plate. While he has struck out a little too much of late, the outfielder has continually been a sturdy source of offense who’s good for 20-plus home runs a season and coming through with clutch hits.
If the Phillies are going to break through and make the playoffs, they need a lot of things to happen. Part of that aspiration comes from their offensive bedrock remaining intact. A member of the Phillies since 2019, McCutchen has become a part of their offensive core.
- Andrew McCutchen contract prediction: two-year, $24 million deal
McCutchen could occasionally play center field depending on how president Dave Dombrowski addresses the position. The former can only help the Phillies make the playoffs, and keeping him shouldn’t prevent them from addressing other parts of their roster. They need two outfielders, so they might as well keep one they’re familiar with, right?
The factor that could stop McCutchen from re-signing with the Phillies, however, is the front office preferring to invest in a younger corner outfielder such as Kyle Schwarber or Eddie Rosario.
1) Andrew McCutchen to the San Diego Padres
The Padres were the most disappointing team of the 2021 MLB season. From a talent standpoint, this is a playoff squad. They should be operating as such this offseason, and that starts with upgrading their outfield. McCutchen makes a lot of sense for the Friars.
Tommy Pham, a free agent, was inconsistent at the plate in his two seasons with the Padres while Wil Myers and Trent Grisham were respectable but little more in 2021. Meanwhile, the Padres recently traded midseason pickup Adam Frazier to the Seattle Mariners. To recap: they need a proven outfielder or two.
McCutchen adds a reliable bat to a lineup that features Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth. The veteran would likely hit in the bottom-half of manager Bob Melvin’s order, driving home the sluggers ahead of him.
Is McCutchen a massive upgrade over Pham in left? He is not. That said, he has produced more of late. Maybe the front office can convince both to sign, creating depth and defensive versatility in the Padres’ outfield rotation? Regardless of that hypothetical taking place, McCutchen would be a superb pickup.
The Padres are too talented to finish below .500 again. This offseason should be about them adding proven players whose markets failed to develop and/or are willing to take a little less to win. McCutchen should be in that category once the lockout ends.