.253/.324/.433, 102 OPS+, 10 HR, 34 RBI
McCutchen signed a three year/$50 million deal with the Phillies in 2019. He was the second of two former MVPs the team signed that year (the other was Bryce Harper). However, in his first season with the Phillies he tore his ACL and missed more than half the season. He returned ready to play at the start of Spring Training in February.
The absolute best thing about McCutchen’s 2020 season was his return from his ACL injury in 2019. He ended up appearing in 57 of the team’s 60 games, 39 of those in left field. And while he took a while to get back into the swing of things, he got screaming hot at the end of the season. Chalk that up to the injury, maybe?
Off the field, one of the most entertaining storylines of 2020 was the introduction to everyone’s favorite new family member, Uncle Larry. (Yes, that was only this year.) In April, Cutch turned a Howard Eskin fumble into a marketing gold mine, entertaining all of us with Uncle Larry’s appearances on his social media accounts.
While he has proven that he is fully healed from his 2019 injury, McCutchen certainly isn’t the player he once was when he won the 2013 NL MVP title, on either side of the ball. His -0.2 WAR for the season puts him statistically below replacement, though some of that can probably be attributed to the shortened season and the fact that he was returning from a major injury. I’m admittedly a huge fan of McCutchen and have been since his early Pirates years. He highlighted my “I would do anything to have him play for the Phillies” list for nearly a decade. Because of that, it’s hard to admit that they should probably upgrade in left field once his contract ends.
Cutch is signed through the 2021 season, with a club option for 2022 worth $15 million. As of right now, he’s one of the better options the team currently has available in the outfield. The Phillies have a system-wide depletion of MLB-ready outfielders so, unless they make significant moves to address that concern, it seems likely that they will at least consider picking up that option. That decision will depend on how McCutchen performs in 2021 as well as the development of other outfield options in Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Mickey Moniak, and Simon Muzziotti.
It’s important to note that McCutchen benefitted greatly from the 2020 COVID-related rules allowing the DH in the National League. Sixteen of his appearances were as the team’s DH, which allowed him to be in the lineup more often than he likely would have without the rule change. As of right now, the league intends to revert back to “status quo” in 2021, which means that the DH will not be a factor. That may play into how much Girardi puts McCutchen in the lineup, which may also impact the team’s decision about his option for 2022.