The Giants made their second big move of the offseason Monday, trading for Andrew McCutchen, erstwhile MVP and face of the Pirates franchise.
After nabbing Evan Longoria from the Rays in December, the Giants seem intent on building the best team of 2013 with the deal for McCutchen — pending a physical. Joking aside, McCutchen fills a massive hole in an Opening Day outfield that, prior to the trade, likely featured Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and a 34-year-old Hunter Pence.
Perhaps just as important as his impact on the lineup, McCutchen keeps the Giants under the luxury tax threshold.
Prior to the deal, Cot’s Baseball Contracts had the Giants with about $16 million of room before hitting the $197 million tax limit, which has acted as essentially a soft salary cap this offseason. McCutchen will make $14.5 million in 2018, allowing the Giants to reset their tax penalties. It’s unlikely the Giants will make any other big moves following this deal.
McCutchen hit 28 homers in 2017 with a .279/.363/.486 slash in 156 games. He was never a top tier center fielder even in his prime, but the Giants are much more likely to play McCutchen, 31, on a corner given his age and only a year removed from being the worst center fielder in baseball by defensive runs saved.
What remains to be seen is who goes to Pittsburgh in the deal. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic and the Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo confirmed that top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede aren’t part of the deal.
As of Monday afternoon. the only name confirmed is righty reliever Kyle Crick. Crick was a top prospect for a couple years as a starter but walk issues moved him to the bullpen full-time in 2017 where he eventually found success. He struck out 28 in 32-1/3 innings in 2017 and set himself up to pitch higher-leverage innings in 2018.
The bottom line is that even if they’re on the back end of 30, McCutchen (and Longoria) immediately make the Giants’ lineup better in 2018. Neither of them are Giancarlo Stanton, but adding a pair of players who can hit 20+ home runs makes the lineup longer and the team more likely to bounce back from a 98-loss 2017.