Seattle Mariners Free Agent Profile: Andrew McCutchen

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 7: Andrew McCutchen #26 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run off of starting pitcher James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners that also scored Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees during the third inning of a game at Safeco Field on September 7, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 7: Andrew McCutchen #26 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run off of starting pitcher James Paxton #65 of the Seattle Mariners that also scored Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees during the third inning of a game at Safeco Field on September 7, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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We actually have tangible news regarding the 2019 Seattle Mariners. However, that won’t stop us from doing everybody’s favorite off-season task: speculating wildly.

In the spirit of wild Mariners speculation, today we take a look at a free agent who has had some rough links to the Mariners in the recent past, former Pittsburgh Pirate, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants OF, Andrew McCutchen.

For a quick refresher on the past speculation around McCutchen and the Seattle Mariners, you can click here. However, these rumors began almost 2 years ago. Does McCutchen still make sense for Seattle? Let’s dive right in.

The Player

Andrew McCutchen is a 32-year-old outfielder who just wrapped up his 10th MLB season. In that 10-year stretch, McCutchen racked up 4 consecutive Top 5 MVP seasons, including winning the MVP award in 2013.

However, McCutchen is no longer the player he was 5 years ago. But he is still a very valuable piece for contending teams. In his last 3 seasons, McCutchen has slashed .263/.356/.446 while appearing in an average of 155 games. In that stretch, he has also averaged 24 home runs, 10 stolen bases, 77 RBI, and 79 walks.

Defensively, McCutchen grades out as about average or slightly below. While no longer an everyday CF, he can cover the spot on occasion without absolutely killing you. In 2018, he made the full time transition to the corner spots and had a decent year while making the transition.

While base-running is no longer a strength of his, McCutchen can still steal 10-15 bags a year and has average or better speed. He needs to do a better job of picking his spots to steal since he has lost a step, but is still enough of a threat to potentially help his new team there.

The Fit

As mentioned above, McCutchen is an okay defensive corner OF who can cover CF on occasion. While the Mariners have a bigger need for an everyday CF, rotating McCutchen, Guillermo Heredia, Mitch Haniger, and Dee Gordon through the position can work if the offensive output is good.

But with Haniger manning RF, McCutchen would most likely need to be the everyday LF, bumping Ben Gamel down to a 4th OF. However, with the potential exit of Nelson Cruz from the DH spot, the Mariners can be creative in finding AB’s for McCutchen, Gamel, and Haniger.

McCutchen brings a solid bat to what would likely be the middle of the Mariners order. With Haniger more than likely manning the leadoff spot and Jean Segura hitting second, it appears that McCutchen would be asked to fill out the cleanup spot unless Seattle adds another big bat.

Overall, with the flexibility currently in the Mariners OF, and with the need for a quality bat, Seattle actually makes a good deal of sense for McCutchen and would be a pretty solid fit.

The Cost

Now we come to the million dollar question: what is this gonna cost? Today, Jon Heyman released his and an unnamed expert’s free agent contract predictions. Andrew McCutchen was estimated to get a 4-year deal worth $60 million this off-season, or $15 million AAV (average annual value).

Heyman himself predicted 3 years at $39 million, or $13 million AAV. Both of these figures present a bit of a problem for the Mariners. McCutchen is no longer a center fielder and both his power and speed metrics have been in decline. It makes sense, as most 32-year-olds are exiting their physical primes.

McCutchen is still a good player who posted a 2.7 bWAR in 2018. Using the old $5-$7 million per 1 WAR standard, McCutchen is deserving of such a contract. But the Mariners cannot afford to play for the players past. Not after being burned in 2018 by Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Felix Hernandez.

Instead, GM Jerry Dipoto will need to answer the question of what he thinks McCutchen will be going forward.

Next. Adam Jones Coming Back to Seattle?. dark

All in all, a contract in the 3-4 years range at $12-$15 million per season is doable. But the Mariners would have to get every dollar of value from that type of contract. And expecting that to happen for a guys 32-35 age season is never a slam dunk.

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