We all know that the Yankees made a move to land 31-year-old outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the San Francisco Giants following Thursday night’s irritating 8-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers. I have a few thoughts on what this means moving forward.
The Yanks just got a lot better.
While Cutch is nowhere near his MVP-days, he is still having a very productive season. He’s slashing .255/.357/.415 (115 wRC+) overall, with 15 homers while playing his home games in spacious AT&T Park. I’d be lying if I said I was watching a lot of Giants games this season, but I imagine there are a few balls that didn’t make it out in San Fran that would have eked over the wall in Yankee Stadium. He’s having a good year and will immediately help the Yanks. He’s also a noted top-of-the-line clubhouse presence. They could potentially have a lineup consisting of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Hicks, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and, of course, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez.
I’m worried about Judge
I was worried about Judge before, but now that they went and got McCutchen, who can start every game the rest of the way, I am worried that Judge isn’t particularly close to returning. I was on the Curtis Granderson bandwagon because of his ability to be a bench player, which is something we have never seen McCutchen do before. I fear that Judge might be a close call to get back in time for the playoffs. I like the move, regardless, but I have some reservations that it may mean we’ve lost a top-5 player in baseball.
Neil Walker needs to be the first baseman
Now that Disco Neil is not being forced into right field duty, he should be the everyday first baseman the rest of the way, barring an injury somewhere else. I was going to say this when Judge came back unless Greg bird got very hot and forced the issue, but after getting Cutch, now is the time to make Neil the starting first baseman. This isn’t a unique thought, River Ave Blues said the same thing a few days ago, but it’s a thought nonetheless. Bird has been abysmal on the field and I am still not a Luke Voit guy. Maybe he can start against lefties or something but I am inclined to say any game Neil doesn’t start at first should be the days that they try to catch lightning in a bottle with Bird.
Gotta feel for Clint Frazier
Clint hasn't gotten a chance at all this year. Every time an opening has been made for him, he's been out with concussions and concussion-related ailments. He couldn't play while Hicks was hurt in April, he wasn't able to maintain a 4th-outfielder role, and he has been hurt for longer than Judge. Clint is playing rehab games now, but you figure at best he could play in an MLB game in a week. It sounds like that doesn't have much of a chance to happen, so unfortunately Clint probably won't get a chance to play this year, save a few appearances in September, if he gets healthy. He's been good when he's healthy, but he hasn't been healthy and in the Major Leagues for any extended stretch this year. Sucks!
I’m pretty sure it’s a good trade
The Yankees didn’t give up much in the move and it sounds like, because Pittsburgh is paying a healthy portion of McCutchen’s contract, the Yankees can eat all of that contract and still be under the ever-looming luxury tax threshold. I would have been mad if they spent all this time staying under it and then basically told the luxury tax plan to go fuck itself with this move now, so that’s good. It sounds like the Giants will still be eating some money, too, so that’s cool.
They didn’t give up any major prospects. That Avelino dude is the centerpiece of the trade. He’s improved a lot this year, but has no real future with the Yanks, and would have needed to be put on the 40-man roster this offseason or he would have become a straight-up minor league free agent, not a Rule-5 guy. I guess we don’t yet know for sure who the second guy is, but I’m guessing it is a guy who is about to be Rule-5 eligible, too. If so, and they remain under the luxury tax, then it’s a low-risk, high-reward move. My favorite kind of move!