Andrew McCutchen could be on the move, and the New York Mets need to make a splash. Is this a match made in heaven?
The New York Mets’ offensive futility over the past two seasons has left many fans desperate for another splashy bat.
Recent rumors are suggesting that the Pittsburgh Pirates could be shopping their superstar, Andrew McCutchen. With the Mets looking to change the dynamic of their offense, he could be the perfect addition.
In his career, McCutchen has an impressive .381 OBP, with four consecutive seasons of an OBP above .400 from 2012-2015.
In comparison, the career on-base percentage’s from Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Curtis Granderson are .318, .319, and .340, respectively.
Even in a down year in 2016, McCutchen had an OBP of .336, higher than the career numbers from Conforto and Bruce.
His on-base oriented approach at the plate would be a huge change for the Mets, who had a .316 OBP, ranking 12th in the National League.
McCutchen still has plenty of power, a trait valued by the front office. Per 162 games, McCutchen averages slightly less than 24 homeruns.
A very simple trait is huge reason McCutchen fits with the Mets: he is right-handed.
As of now, the Mets project to have Bruce, Conforto, Granderson, Nimmo, and Duda all as left-handed batters on their opening day lineup. McCutchen clears up the left log jam, giving the Mets a more balanced lineup, and one that is less prone to getting “Bumgarner-ed.”
Many may look at the addition of McCutchen as a possible replacement for Cespedes, yet I see no reason why both could not happen.
McCutchen is a more natural center fielder, and will allow Cespedes to remain in his more comfortable left field without having to put Conforto or Granderson out of position.
The presence of the Pirates star would also take a world of pressure off Cespedes, who has literally carried the team on his back for much of the past two seasons. The decrease in pressure on Cespedes could result in better production from him, as he won’t be forced to play injured if there are other stars who can carry the lineup.
There is no way to deny that Cespedes’ quad never healed, and was responsible for his poor September.
A lineup with Cespedes and McCutchen could look something like this:
- Reyes 2B
- McCutchen LF
- Cabrera SS
- Cespedes CF
- Duda 1B
- Wright 3B
- Conforto RF
- d’Arnaud C
This lineup looks a heck of a lot scarier than one with David Wright batting second, and the aging Curtis Granderson maintaining a starting role.
If the Mets should look to keep Cespedes and add McCutchen, they probably won’t be able to afford keeping Neil Walker, or adding a catcher like Matt Weiters.
McCutchen would add $14 million to the Mets payroll, most likely replacing Jay Bruce, who would most likely see his time in Flushing come to an end.
There would be no reason for the Mets to spend $13 million on a left-handed corner outfielder when they have one at the league minimum and another making $15 million.
It is doubtful that the Mets would deny Bruce’s option after giving up Dilson Herrera. In all likelihood, they thought he would be around for another year.
New York would most likely try and include him in the deal for McCutchen, or dump him off to a rebuilding team for a couple of prospects.
That brings up a good topic: what will it take for the Mets to get McCutchen in a deal?
According to Rob Biertempfel, it would take a couple of good prospects for the Pirates to pull the trigger. They would almost instantly ask the Mets for Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, or Michael Conforto, plus a Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini.
The Mets have been wary to deal any of these prospects, so you have to wonder if they would include a pitcher, like Matt Harvey, in such a deal.
With the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, the Mets will have eight big league capable starters in their system.
While we saw this year that pitching depth can never be a bad thing, will 5/6 of the rotation really wind up hurt again?
The Pirates were a respectable ninth in the league with a 4.21 ERA last year but will need improvement should they want to make it back to October.
Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom seem off limits, and rightfully so, but Harvey, Matz, and even Wheeler could all be on the block. Harvey wouldn’t require the Mets to give up much more in a deal, with his record of major league success.
The Mets could look to move Harvey, with his likelihood to stay with the Mets the lowest of their five young starters.
Harvey also has only 2 more years before free agency — the same as McCutchen.
With the lack of MLB experience, and injury history, Matz or Wheeler would probably require the Mets to give up more in a deal.
To take the next step, improving the offense is a must, and McCutchen seems like a great fit should the Pirates look to deal him this winter.