The Pirates are rumored to be shopping franchise center fielder Andrew McCutchen. The question I am asking is if the Dodgers should be in on these trade discussions? Should the Dodgers go after McCutchen? With the free agent market nearly barren for position players and impact right handed bats, the Dodgers may have to get creative via trades to find that type of slugger, especially if they do not resign Justin Turner.
It is no secret that the Dodgers are in need of a right handed bat to balance out a very lefty heavy lineup. Of course it would be better if that bat was a corner infielder, but it would be hard to pass up on a talented player like McCutchen.
Sources: Likelihood Andrew McCutchen plays in Pittsburgh in 2017 is dwindling. As @Ken_Rosenthal said, Pirates almost certain to move him.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 30, 2016
McCutchen has been with the Bucs since 2009, originally drafted by the Pirates in the first round of the 2005 draft. McCutchen previously had been one of the best players in baseball. The 30-year old veteran has averaged at least 20 home runs for six consecutive seasons.
He has had a deadly mixture of power, speed, and on base skills. He’s posted four consecutive seasons from 2012-2015 with an OBP of .400 or greater. Overall he has slashed a career .292/.381/.487 with 175 home runs, and 637 runs batted in while playing over 1190 games in his eight major league seasons. He’s been an all-star five times, and won the NL MVP award in 2013.
That 2013 season was arguably his finest year. He batted .317 with a .410 OBP and a .911 OPS with 21 home runs, 84 runs batted in and 27 stolen bases in 674 plate appearances. That included 184 hits, and 78 walks. McCutchen has been one of the most consistent base stealers in all of baseball, stealing 160 career bags while being caught just 62 times.
Unfortunately McCutchen’s numbers have been declining over the last two seasons. His batting, on base skills, and speed have all dropped significantly. In 2015, McCutchen batted .292 with a .410 OBP but his strikeouts rose from 115 in 2014, to 133. He still hit 23 home runs in 2015, and 24 last year. He drew just 69 walks in 2016, and struck out 143 times. His slash line plummeted to .256/.336/.430 and just 6 stolen bases in 675 plate appearances.
Not only that, but apparently his defense has fallen off as well. UZR rated him with a -18 rating in 2016, and -28 defensive runs saved. The Pirates reportedly felt that he was playing too shallow. If the Dodgers were to deal for him they would probably have to move him to a corner position with rookie standout Joc Pederson entrenched in center field.
Its unknown as to what the Pirates would want for him, but it could be in the way of young cost controlled arms. Possibly Jose De Leon, Yadier Alvarez, Trevor Oaks or walker Buehler. It is unlikely the Dodgers would want to part with any of those young arms, but maybe the Dodgers could live with losing one or two to get McCutchen. A player of his caliber doesn’t become available often, even if he had a declining season.
Important to add to McCutchen trade talks: Sources say Pirates asking other teams about outfielders. Planning ahead in case they move him.
— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) November 30, 2016
The guessing game is whether McCutchen is in decline from age and injuries, or if 2016 was just a down year. McCutchen is entering the final year of a 6-year 51.5 million dollar contract. He is owed 14 million for next season, and has a 14 million dollar club option with a 1 million dollar buyout.
Would you trade prospects for Andrew McCutchen? Should the Dodgers go after him?