The CBA negotiations are in full swing this week which means a free agent bonanza is hopefully right around the corner. The Atlanta Braves have a bit of a to-do list and while the fate of Freddie Freeman is going to dictate a lot of what the Braves do, they do need to get their outfield in order especially if Ronald Acuna Jr. is going to be out to start the season. The Braves will have several options on the table, but one possible option is veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Lets go ahead and get this out of the way: McCutchen is not the same player he once was as Father Time has caught up with him. From 2011-2015, Cutch was one of the absolute best players in baseball with a well-rounded skillset that any team would want. However, in recent years, McCutchen’s wRC+ has been far more pedestrian (102 and 107 in 2020 and 2021 respectively) thanks to significant reductions in his ability to hit consistently as well as slowing in the field.
However, he still possesses real power as he remains a 25ish home run per season guy and his ISO has continued to be in the .180-.200 range for the last several years. He can also still draw a walk at a good clip with 12% being his career norm even of late. Cutch is also generally beloved by players and fans alike and would likely be an asset in the clubhouse. In what SHOULD be a pretty good to very good Braves lineup depending on other moves the Braves make, Cutch could provide some decent production on the field and benefits in the clubhouse without having to be a key offensive cog.
In short, Andrew McCutchen should be in consideration for a spot on the Braves although the fit isn’t a perfect one. For one, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler did just help the Braves win the World Series and may be better and more familiar fits for a spot especially given that they are younger. In addition, the Braves’ outfield situation is a bit weird and could be somewhat changeable. Ronald Acuna Jr. is going to be back at some point and then there is the matter of what the Braves do with Adam Duvall and/or Cristian Pache. Cutch could very well be better than either of those guys, but at 34 years old and declining, that isn’t a sure thing.
Ultimately, like most things, it will likely come down to money and what McCutchen wants to do in the twilight of his career. He won’t get a long-term deal, but a two year deal seems to be very possible. He may like the idea of spending these last few seasons of his career on an exciting, contending young team even if playing time could be an issue if he struggles. There is also the Braves side. Cutch won’t require a bank breaking deal, but he will want real money to play and an aging outfielder may not be where the Braves want to commit that sort of money.