Buster Olney posted his list of the top ten center fielders on Wednesday morning and Andrew McCutchen has fallen out of the top ten. That is one year after McCutchen ranked fifth overall for Olney and just two years after he was the second best center fielder in the game.

It appears that Starling Marte will be the only top ten player at his position according to Olney, who also gets help from MLB evaluators and some ESPN staff in his rankings. That’s a drop of three players in the top ten last year and more favorable rankings in prior seasons. McCutchen was listed among his “best of the rest” and Olney spoke highly of him in his brief mention, so it appears that he lost out by a combo of depth at the position, plus the decline from his best days.

There is one thing to consider with this ranking today. If Olney heavily weighs the opinion of his baseball people, then this could show you how teams feel about McCutchen’s worth in a trade. If his perceived value has dropped that much around baseball, then you’re not going to get a strong return for him with just one year left on his contract. That might be the reason the Pirates end of holding on to him this off-season, hoping he builds value throughout the season. That’s something we will find out soon with Spring Training just five weeks away.

The only remaining top ten to be released is right field. Gregory Polanco was on Olney’s list last year, but I can’t see him making it this season after his 2017 season filled with injuries and a .695 OPS when he was healthy. The rankings are based more on what Olney and his evaluators expect for the upcoming season, so it’s possible they will look at his age and 2016 numbers for what he could do with a healthy season.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. This is where Buster proves he’s an idiot. You can’t exclude Harrison from 2nd then rank Chris Taylor as a CF.

  2. No Victor Robles for Cutch and maybe no one else as well. If a return is not worth the trade then keep him and let him finish out his contract with the Pirates and free him after that. If he is finished he can then retire as a Pirate. I for one do not think he is at the end of his career. Maybe the speed has diminished and the range in the outfield is not what it was but he can still play at an acceptable level and lead a team of younger players.

    • If memory serves last summer it was revealed what that trade consisted and I do not believe that Robles was part of it but Gio Gonzales was…

  3. Really rough ranking here.

    Not only was Cutch the 7th most valuable center fielder last year, one of the players ranked above him wasn’t even a true center fielder. Two of the guys on this list came out of nowhere, and three are there almost exclusively for their defensive value.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m being a homer, but it’s not like Cutch doesn’t have an argument.

    • I think the slow start soured everyone on him and made them look away. Once he made his adjustment, he showed for the rest of the season he can still absolutely hit. He had a rough August, but he was among the best in the game in June and July, and was very good again in September and October. And most of his peripherals even in August weren’t very alarming; he certainly wasn’t hitting the ball as hard, but his soft% wasn’t super high, and his BB% and K% weren’t bad, either. Luck was probably involved at least a little bit in that slump.

      And while he’s not good defensively, and he’s not the base runner he once was, a bat like that his is absolutely valuable.

  4. BTW for me if Cole is traded I would guess that would open up the flood gates for Pirates to move more players.

  5. None of these rankings take into consideration the added value a player brings to a franchise just because of the type of man he is. If Cutch cannot bring back at least one top level prospect, then it makes sense to me that we make him a QO and do what we need to do to keep him in Black and Gold for the rest of his career. He is worth far more to the Pirates (and to Pittsburgh) than his on-field contributions.

    • This is a good sentiment, but doesn’t amount to wins. He can leave for a few years, come back for his plaque, and we will still love him.

  6. This is why I have not been on the ‘Cutch will be traded’ bandwagon. Between not getting a top return and need Meadows to stay healthy points to us keeping him, at least until the trade deadline.

    • Yes I agree but I am skeptical of anything that is affiliated with ESPN. This network has trended downward for 10 years and Olney has had better days.

    • Problem..whatever he is worth NOW..it will be less come deadline, so for me we will be just giving him away at that time. QO is my way to go, if not traded NOW.

      • If he’s hot and the right team has a hole to fill, it’s still possible he brings a better return at the deadline.
        I’m not expecting the QO to work out. If he has a good season it seems likely he’d be traded. If he declines, I’m not sure he gets a deal worth 50M guaranteed in order for the draft pick compensation to kick in. In that case I think he’d have to consider taking the QO and earning the highest single-season salary of his career.

        • Every year is different, but I suggest reviewing what position players that where traded brought back to team trading them at last year’s deadline. NOT MUCH…..

          Sorry, but for me too many If’s, since last year was the time to move him and get a reasonable return. It’s now or never(elvis) for me…

    • McCutchen should be a decent bet for 3.5+ WAR, and will almost certainly at least post 3.0+ WAR, and will make $14.5 million for the season. That’s pretty good WAR/$ value. And there’s upside above that, given his history. He’s a near-sure bet to post at least a 120 wRC+. He commands trade value. Paying him just $14.5 million for that kind of production, and only needing to commit to one year of it so you’re not on the hook for him as he ages is worthwhile for a contender.

      If we think Cole should command significant trade value, we should also expect Cutch to. Cole gets a boost from having a lower price and one more year of control, but Cutch is a surer bet to produce more value in 2018, and that matters, too. Cutch won’t and shouldn’t fetch as much in a trade as Cole, but he’ll fetch something.

        • Or an argument based on what actually happened last season, which is that Cutch posted a 3.7 fWAR and a 122 wRC+ despite his really abysmal start. He’s projected by Steamer and Depth charts for 3.0 WAR with 50-75 fewer PA than he’s had each year of his career.

          This isn’t an optimistic view of his value. It’s a realistic one. When a player has been worth at least 3.5 WAR in every full season of his career except one, it’s no reach to expect him to post 3.5 WAR again.

  7. Looking at the list, I think it’s pretty justified. You could definitely argue for McCutchen, but I get leaving him off, especially if you value defense a lot.

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