At the final trade deadline for teams to add to their postseason rosters, the New York Yankees made a rather large move as they acquired Andrew McCutchen from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for infielder Abiatal Avelino and right-handed pitcher Juan De Paula.
The 31-year-old impending free agent will give the Yankees a formidable outfielder to keep the seat warm for Aaron Judge until he returns from his injury. Cutch hasn’t been the same superstar that he once was, although his .255/.357/.415 batting line with 15 home runs and 13 stolen bases certainly brings value. This deal could also be exceptional for Cutch, as he will be protected in a star-studded line-up including Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Gleyber Torres. Furthermore, his power could play up in hitter friendly American League East.
Avelino is a 23-year old shortstop who has hit .287/.333/.446 between Double-A and Triple-A while hitting 15 home runs with 19 stolen bases. At this point, he is slated to depart from the Giants via minor league free agency this offseason, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see his new organization try to retain him by adding him to the 40-man roster over the next month or so. Avelino is close to major league ready, and while many are a bit conservative with his ceiling based on a lack of plate discipline, I see no reason that he can not become a major league regular based on his hit tool, power, speed, and glove. If Avelino does depart in free agency, don’t be shocked if another club signs him to a major league deal based on the fact that he could be a sneaky candidate to find success in the majors as soon as next year.
As for De Paula, the nearly 21-year-old starter has been rather decent over the past four seasons in the low minor leagues. Acquired from the Mariners in the Ben Gamel deal from a few Augusts ago, he’s brings three above-average pitches in his changeup, curveball, and fastball. While he has struggled mightily with his control, he has always done a nice job limiting the home run, which will be essential for him as he rises through the Giants system which includes the dreaded Pacific Coast League. At this time, he is too far away to give a ceiling and floor, but all signs point to him being able to remain in the rotation. I would expect him to begin 2019 in full season Low-A ball with an ETA of late-2021.
I love the Giants side of the deal, as they get two prospects who are known commodities in exchange for a departing veteran in a lost season. Assuming Avelino is retained, he should be able to help the major league team as soon as next season. Meanwhile, De Paula could make this deal look like a blowout within the next five season assuming he remains on his trajectory. While pitching prospects are always volatile, the nearly 21-year-old has been very good over the first four seasons of his minor league career, and while there are a few question marks, there are even more things to be intrigued by. The Giants gave up a lot to get McCutchen, as Kyle Crick has developed into a very nice bullpen piece for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds has been putting up decent numbers in Double-A despite a very high BABIP, but this new pair of prospects has the potential to bring even more value than the two initially exchanged for McCutchen, even if there is more risk.
As for the Yankees, it was a necessary move. Neither guy looked as if they had any spot in the Yankees plans over the next few years, and seeing as how Avelino was likely to depart at the end of the season anyway, it makes sense to get something back. The Yankees’ exceptional depth has been rather obvious throughout the season simply by looking at major league players like Ronald Torreyes and Brandon Drury, who spent a good amount of time in Triple-A despite historically strong numbers in the majors. With Judge still on the shelf, it makes a ton of sense to go out and grab a rental who has shown the ability to play at a high level while bringing some valuable post season experience to the table.