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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Giants trade for McCutchen, still have $4.4M to spend

*Update added to bottom of post*

With the clock ticking on the MLB offseason, the Giants finally made that big addition to their outfield we've been waiting for by obtaining Andrew McCutchen from Pittsburgh and likely ending their work for the winter. Whether they've done enough to fix the problems that cost the team just shy of 100 losses though remains to be seen.

Early Monday morning, the Giants and Pirates struck the deal that brings the all-star outfielder to the bay area in exchange for Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds. Upon hearing this news, I wasn't surprised at all, the Giants have been linked to the outfielder all winter and after losing out on Giancarlo Stanton then Jay Bruce, it became apparent that McCutchen had moved atop the their wish-list. Although I know he's not the ideal, young stud outfielder the Giants can build around into the next decade or so, McCutchen's still an impact player and I really do like this trade. Much more so than the Evan Longoria trade, that's for sure. McCuthen's defense has slipped a little the last couple of seasons, but he's still a halfway decent center fielder. His bat, however, is clearly a strength, as he's coming off a nice rebound season at the plate (.279/.363/.486 with 28 HR, 88 RBI and 11 swipes) and he immediately becomes the teams second most valuable offensive weapon. The only questions that lie ahead for the newest Giant is where exactly in the outfield and in the lineup he'll slot in at.

As of now, he's likely the teams opening day center fielder and leadoff man and with the team so close to the luxury tax penalty line, it's unlikely they'll be able to make any other noteworthy moves unless they somehow unload some more payroll in the process. I would really still like to see them bring in a more defensive minded center fielder, especially now that they appear to have upgraded the offense pretty significantly (as long as everybody doesn't fall off a cliff next season). Carlos Gomez and Jarrod Dyson, among others, still remain on the free agent market, but I don't think either guy will have to settle for a minor league deal and that's pretty much all the Giants are able to offer free agents at this point. I'm most intrigued by Gomez's dynamic abilities at the plate, and think he could be a 20-20 threat but patrolling center may be an issue for him on a day to day basis and the Giants have made it clear they want defense in center. Jarrod Dyson would look pretty good right about now, as he's sort of a Gregor Blanco-type with a little more bat though. Jon Jay is similar to Dyson, with more bat but not the speed or quite the defense but nice splits. Cameron Maybin really seems like the guy who's the most attainable though. Solid defender, but coming off terrible year at the plate.

If the Giants can somehow finagle another starting caliber outfielder onto the roster to play center and leadoff, it would allow the Giants to run out a heart of the order containing McCutchen, Posey, Longoria and Brandon Belt. It's not necessarily the most intimidating middle-of-the-order in the league, but I think they have to be pretty pleased with where they are now compared to what they were trotting out there last summer. I know we all were hoping for Giancarlo Stanton heading into the winter, Longoria and McCutchen are nice fallback additions in the short term. I'm much more intrigued with McCutchen than I would have been with Jay Bruce and the Giants will have some options regarding McCuthen after the year rather than being tied to him for the next three-plus seasons like they would have been had they wound up with Bruce. In fact, with money and/or potential trade pieces taken into account, McCuthen was probably my top remaining choice left on the market. J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain are each going to get long-term deals worth over $100M and while I won't deny that Martinez's bat would have been a tremendous add, he too is no spring chicken and who knows how good a 5-year deal for him will look in a few seasons? As for Cain, yes he's a better defender than McCuthen at this point, but McCutchen is much more dangerous at the plate and more so fits what the Giants' urgent needs are.

Lastly, another thing that made McCuthen and attractive option for the Giants was the fact that they aren't tied to him in the long-term, although if they so choose to be, I'm sure they'd have a helluva shot at retaining him after the season. I mean, if he plays well he'll likely be an integral part of the team winning and they'll likely try and re-sign him. Most players that come over to San Francisco via trade end up wanting to stick around and if not, they'll at least send him a qualifying offer which would net them a high draft choice if he signs elsewhere. Also, if he plays well but the team is still struggling, then they have themselves what could be one of the bigger trade pieces this summer in late July and if he ends up struggling and having a down year, which is unlikely, then the team can just simply let him walk after the season.

I don't see the latter part happening though, as McCuthen has been a mark of consistency throughout his impressive career and only once over his 9 years at the big league level has he finished a season with a sub-.800 OPS and has hit 21 or more home runs in each of his last 7 seasons. The Giants need power and production at the plate, plain and simple, and McCutchen will most likely provide just that. Some people may be worried that coming to AT&T Park will hamper McCuthen's numbers as it does with most hitters that join the Giants from other ball clubs, but 'Cutch has played his career in a ballpark very similar to AT&T in terms of favoring the pitcher slightly more than the hitter. This is what has me confident that his power will not take a hit at all. I fully expect him to be right around .280/25/85/.850 again next season and if he comes within range of those numbers then this trade will turn out just fine for the Giants.

Bryan Reynolds has gotten a lot of attention the last couple of seasons and looks like he could have some sort of future in the big leagues, and Kyle Crick was once the teams top prospect, is still relatively young and still has that live arm but unlike with Christian Arroyo, I don't see either of these guys coming back to haunt the Giants a few years down the line. That coupled with the fact that I have little doubt that McCuthen is going to come in and produce like an all-star for the Giants is what has me much more sure minded about this one than giving up Arroyo for Longoria last month. Like with all deals made in the offseason though, only time will tell how both these deals ultimately effect the team.

At least very least, this offseason has gone better than last years. This winter they identified their needs early and although it took some time to get the deals complete, they chose a plan of attack and a blueprint they wanted to follow and they stuck to it. I know they didn't necessarily get the guys who were at the top of their wish-list, they had backup plans in place and acted on them. Whether or not those plans were good ones and will work out in the long run remains to be seen of course, but at the very least, they tried, and we can't say they didn't. Now the offseason is not quite yet over, and they do still have some questions remaining and we'll see if they can pull anything else off and miraculously avoid reaching the CBT. If not though, McCuthen and Longoria look so much better penciled into the lineup than Denard Span and Pablo Sandoval would have been, that's for sure.

In my opinion, the pressure is now really on the Giants' returnees who are coming off down and/or injury-plagued seasons to get on track (like Mark Melancon, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence) and if those guys are at their career norms in 2018 then things should definitely be looking up....Anyway, after the most recent addition, this is how the Giants lineup looks to be shaping up, at least in the order I'd put them:

RF McCutchen
2B Panik
C Posey
3B Longoria
1B Belt
RF Pence
SS Crawford
CF Hernandez/Duggar/Slater
You can see where a leadoff hitting center fielder would really round things out, but this is a much stronger bunch then what they entered 2017 with already!

UPDATE: The Giants announced in a conference call Tuesday regarding the McCutchen deal that they will indeed play him in right field, move Pence to left and still have just shy of $5M left to pursue that defense first center fielder they're seeking. According to MLB trade rumors, the three guys they're targeting are Jarrod Dyson, Cam Maybin and Jon Jay, supposedly in that order. While Carlos Gomez likely isn't high on their list because his slipping defense, he rebounded in a lot of ways after his trade to Texas last summer and not too long ago was one of the premier outfielders in the game in terms of going and getting a ball.

Austin Jackson is another guy who's out there and he's an option I would rank neck and neck with the top-3 seeing what he did in Cleveland last summer (129 OPS+ which equaled Buster Posey's). Only issue with him is he'd only be a marginal upgrade over McCutchen in center whereas the top-3 are above average defenders. Cam may be best suited to play everyday with the most upside, especially if he can get back into the rhythm he was in during '15-'16 when he combined for a .289/.352/.389 slash while playing everyday in Atlanta in '15 and mostly everyday in Detroit in '16. However, he's just as likely to be the hitter he was last season, which was abysmal, as he was the previous seasons due to his inconsistencies but Dyson and Jay have shown more consistency... Much more on this to come though. I'm sure with so many options left and the market yet to really get going, one of these guys should fall to them at a more than reasonable price because there just aren't that many centerfield jobs open, apparently, and you have about 5-6 guys still looking for one with Spring training starting in a less than 4 weeks.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love the trade! Really wish we could get another starter and a leadoff hitter so McCutchen can hit in the middle of the lineup.

  • At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If they Giants are done signing, then there season is over already... Giants were a 100 (98) loss team last year, and 80 hr's behind the last place playoff team, 2 added improvements mean they only loose 90 games this year and will be 15 games out by Sept. the Giants can not compete with HR totals mainly due to the Ball park, so they have to get runs by speed on the base paths and in the outfield not going station to station baseball, Botchy wouldn't know what to do speed if he had it (Nunez batted 6th all year) this team is designed for one thing, get as many "Names" the fans recognize to fill the seats for another year, when they should be building up their Farm, hate to say it but they will be watching the Dodgers in the playoffs from home for the next 5 years, until they get a front office and build their Farm system, you can't entice other free agents if you are last place again and dragging Posey around in interviews.

  • At 11:37 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    I don't necessarily agree with the last comment, but I also think they need a little more fire power in the lineup and will need another starter at least at some point. The reason why the Giants didn't win games was due to a whole slew of reasons. One of the most productive bats was sidelined and ineffective for most of the first half. Same with their ace starter. Same with their ace closer. They just didn't have the depth to overcome those injuries. Had those injuries not occured, and Brandon Belt doesn't hit under .250 and Brandon Crawford is more the hitter he'd been the previous couple of seasons, then THAT same Giants team would not have lost as many games as they did.

    Now, you add Longo, who I'm not terrifically high on, but do recognize him as an upgrade to anything they've had at the hot corner since Pablo Sandoval in 2012 and McCutchen, who showed last year he's still an all-star caliber hitter and should improve his defensive metrics moving out of center. I think the team is incrementally better for sure, but if they lose MadBum and all those guys they lost last season then they're screwed anyway.

    However, I still hope they can get that center fielder they're seeking, but I'm not super high on Jon Jay or Cam Maybin. I like Carlos Gomez, and I do think Jarrod Dyson makes since on a one-year deal.

    As they stand now, as long as they don't have a ton of injuries or guys fall off a cliff in 2018 production wise, should at least be around .500 and possible better. If Pence is the .280/20/85/.800 guy he can be, Belt at least stays healthy for the full season and hikes up his AVG, and Melancon is the rock at the end of the pen then they're going to be a whole lot better than they were a season ago. Still a tad worried about the starting rotation, but I think they may be able to get someone on a minor league deal to come in and provide depth there before or during spring training.

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  • At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bring back Nunez for a bench role. We need depth. Last season was so bad cuz we had modesty after our starters.

  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    There's no way they're bringing Nunez back. He's going to cost too much and they aren't going to spend that on a utility guy, although I do agree he'd be a great add to the depth of this team and if they had $15-20M's to still throw around then hell yeah deepen the roster and give Nunez $5M of that money. He can basically play every position except center and catcher so he's got value for sure. Then again, if they had that kinda money they probably would spend most of it on Lorenzo Cain and the rest on bullpen/starters.

    The Giants really need a center fielder and some more pitching depth so their bench isn't a priority at this point. Plus they have Sandoval, some decent young outfield prospects and Kelby Tomlinson set to be the reserves right now and that's not a terrible bunch.

  • At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dyson will certainly be a solid addition for his glove, obviously, but Cain is necessary if the team wants to really compete with the elites in the league. I didn't like the idea of spending so much on Giancarlo as one player cannot make that much of a difference, but stretching your budget to fit in a Cain to add to the 2 solid pickups already acquired, now that will solidify a lineup. I'll take the 3 headed Cutch-Longoria-Cain monster over Stanton every time. Let's see if management has the courage to make that happen.

  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    You know, at the beginning of the offseason, I didn't want the team to wast all it's money on Cain because I thought they should focus more on adding run production. However, after they got Cutch and Longoria, Cain makes a lot of sense right now. I just don't see where they can fit him in without going over the CBT which is obviously holding them back. But now that they've came this far and are only a player away from having a really, really solid lineup, and IF it were Cain, it would be the best starting 8 I think they've run out there yet. Let's just admire what it would look like.

    CF Cain
    2B Panik
    RF McCutchen
    C Posey
    3B Longoria
    1B Belt
    LF Pence
    SS Crawford

    Again, highly unlikely they can get Cain aboard unless they're scrapping the idea of staying below the CBT threshold, but damn does that lineup look solid.

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