Another domino has fallen in the free agent market as Andrew McCutchen has reached a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Matt Gelb of The Athletic was the first to break the news.
McCutchen joins shortstop Jean Segura as the newest of additions to the Phillies roster this offseason. He split time between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees last season, slashing .255/.368/.424 and clubbing 20 home runs in the regular season. McCutchen will join Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Roman Quinn in the Phillies outfield and is likely to be the primary man occupying left field.
McCutchen is several seasons removed from his last All-Star caliber year, but the 32-year-old outfielder will provide valuable leadership to a young, up-and-coming team that is looking to contend in the National League East division in 2019. He also provides exactly what the Phillies lost when they gave up Carlos Santana, and that is a player who can hit 20-25 home runs and get on base consistently. He ranked ninth in baseball in total walks with 95 last season, as well as ranking 20th in the majors with a .368 on-base percentage.
The Philadelphia Phillies, with the addition of Segura and another year of experience and maturity for youngsters such as Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco, figure to take a step forward as they attempt to chase down the Atlanta Braves for a shot at the National League East division crown. Adding a consistent, reliable veteran such as McCutchen will help bring a strong measure of accountability to a team that too often got in its own way last season.
The scary part for division rivals is that the signing of McCutchen does not, by any means, take the Phillies out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
The Phillies are absolutely still in the hunt for Harper, this offseason’s most sought-after free agent. Should they still choose to aggressively pursue Harper, the Phillies could then opt to trade one of their extra, young outfielders such as Williams or Herrera in exchange for pitching help, whether it be in the bullpen or the starting rotation.
The bottom line is that the Phillies have a lot of flexibility as it pertains to how they approach the remainder of the offseason. They can still pursue Harper while also exploring the trade market to potentially land a top-line starting pitcher such as Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco. The Phillies have already proven that they are not afraid to deal away from their wealth of young talent when they included J.P. Crawford in the deal for Segura.
The Washington Nationals have already started improving their roster this offseason, and the Braves are a young team that will only get better year after year. Thus, Philadelphia’s general manager, Matt Klentak, knows that he will have to stay aggressive as the offseason rolls on in order to turn the Phillies into a true contender in 2019. McCutchen is a great start, but Phillies fanatics will be hoping that much more is still to come.