As the Phillies wait for free agent infielder Manny Machado’s visit to Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, the team officially welcomed another free agent, Andrew McCutchen, to Philadelphia today.
And this guy, they already signed.
McCutchen, a five-time All-Star and former MVP for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a three-year, $50 million contract at the Winter Meetings last week, with a $15 million club option and $3 million buyout of a fourth year. The Phillies are McCutchen’s third organization since he was traded by the Pirates to the San Francisco Giants in the middle of the 2017 season. He was dealt from the Giants to the Yankees in the middle of last season.
In 155 games for the Giants and Yankees, he hit .255/.368/.424 with 20 home runs, 65 RBIs and 14 stolen bases, good for an fWAR of 2.6, and McCutchen seemed genuinely enthusiastic about joining the Phillies for at least the next three seasons.
“I’m overly excited and happy to be here,” he said. “I know what this franchise is all about and I’m really looking forward to representing this team.”
Phillies introduce Andrew McCutchen— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 18, 2018
“The Phillies really came after me. They showed they really wanted me. That’s all I wanted. To really feel that from someone. They were really pumped. They got me really pumped” pic.twitter.com/KBSckLIyfF
McCutchen is 32 years old, and a few questions during the news conference surrounded his age and the fact he’s entering his mid-30s.
Questions at this presser about McCutchen’s decline and how to handle his playing time making me wonder if these folks know he’s 32 and not 40— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) December 18, 2018
One piece of business that had to be sorted out was what number McCutchen would wear now that he’s a Phillie.
For the numerologists out there, Andrew McCutchen will wear No. 22, which was worn by Gabe Kapler last season. Kapler will switch to No. 19, his old number as a player with Red Sox. pic.twitter.com/VxshIY5VPW— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) December 18, 2018
So, if own a Gabe Kapler No. 22 jersey last year, this is some bad news I guess.
While McCutchen’s power numbers have taken a dip in recent seasons (he had a .553, .508 and .542 slugging percentage from 2012-14), he does believe playing full-time in Philadelphia will help those numbers.
“I’ve never played an entire season in a hitter’s park. I’m looking forward to that.”
The McCutchen contract is an interesting one, given free agent outfielder Michael Brantley signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Houston Astros. And while Brantley did hit .309/.364/.468 last year in 143 games, it was the first time since 2014 Brantley played in at least 140 games. McCutchen, meanwhile, has played in at least 153 games in 8 of his last 9 seasons (his lone season under 153 was in 2014, when he played in 146) and continues to play solid defense right or left field. The Phils paid a little extra for that durability those defensive skills.
However, Kapler said he may look to get McCutchen a few more days off here and there, sometimes because of a match-up or a day where Kapler feels like the outfielder could use a breather.
“He and I are going to discuss it, and we’ll make the best decision for the Philadelphia Phillies and Andrew McCutchen,” Kapler said.
And while McCutchen knows he is no longer the 7-to-8 win player he used to be, he believes he can be better than he has been the last few years.
Andrew McCutchen on the drop-off from his MVP-caliber peak (2012-15): "There has been a decline, yes, but I do understand what I'm capable of doing. I definitely think this ballpark [Citizens Bank Park] is going to help me in that aspect. But I know I can be better." #Phillies— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) December 18, 2018
McCutchen wasn’t the only star in attendance at today’s news conference, by the way.
Rhys Hoskins is at the Andrew McCutchen introductory press conference #Phillies— Dave Uram (@MrUram) December 18, 2018
And both were upstaged by somebody else... McCutchen’s uber-cute one-year-old.
Steel has stolen our hearts. pic.twitter.com/hGeVBaNUTq— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) December 18, 2018
Maybe Steel can Facetime Manny or Bryce over the next few days? It wouldn’t hurt to ask, right?