According to Jason Mackey, the Pittsburgh Pirates are bringing back Andrew McCutchen on a one-year deal. The Pirates haven’t announced anything, but seemingly have confirmed the news.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) January 13, 2023
McCutchen is coming off a 2022 season with the Milwaukee Brewers where he had a .237/.316/.384 line in 580 plate appearances, worth an 0.3 fWAR. He was a 1.5 fWAR outfielder with the Phillies a year prior, with better walk and power numbers.
This signing fits a recurring theme of adding veteran leadership that takes the spotlight off the younger prospects who are emerging to the majors.
McCutchen does this in a huge way. He knows Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh knows him.
He knows what it’s like to arrive as a top prospect in Pittsburgh, with every Pirates fan watching his every at-bat, dreaming about the day when he could lead them to the playoffs with an MVP season.
He knows about doing that, as well.
McCutchen is far from the MVP and All-Star he was when the Pirates were last contenders. He’s still capable of putting up average starting numbers in the outfield, and might get a personal boost by returning to Pittsburgh. The veteran value here is huge, but this also fills a team need.
Earlier today, Anthony Murphy wrote about how the outfield picture still offers more questions than answers. The addition of McCutchen provides an answer, giving the Pirates a starter to pair with Bryan Reynolds — assuming the Pirates don’t trade Reynolds. That is an interesting pairing, as Reynolds was acquired for McCutchen prior to the 2018 season.
If the Pirates have Reynolds and McCutchen as starters, they could platoon Jack Suwinski and Connor Joe for the third spot. That could give them average production or better across the board at the three outfield spots.
This alignment would also make anything from Ji-Hwan Bae or any other prospect a bonus, rather than something the team is relying upon.
With one addition, this outfield now has depth in the proper place, obvious veteran leadership, and a clear draw for Pirates fans to watch the team in 2023.
UPDATE: According to Jason Mackey, the deal will be worth $5M
PHOTO: David Hague / Pirates Prospects
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.