Pirates All 40: Andrew McCutchen Brings Something Desperately Needed
This is one in a series of stories looking at members of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 40-man roster.
Andrew McCutchen doesn’t need an introduction. He’s the best Pirate since Barry Bonds, the most beloved since Willie Stargell. He’s the man who took Pittsburgh from two decades of losing seasons to three straight playoff appearances.
2013 National League MVP. 2015 Roberto Clemente Award winner. Five time All-Star. Four time Silver Slugger. Gold Glover.
McCutchen agreed to a one year, $5 million contract with the Pirates on January 13. The corresponding move came a week later, when Pittsburgh designated Miguel Andújar for assignment.
Cutch is back. While he may be ready to embark upon the final chapter of his big league career, he isn’t back in Pittsburgh to bask in nostalgia, telling reporters that he’s here to win.
“I want to win, but specifically, I want to win here,” McCutchen said. “This isn’t like a one and done type thing for me. I don’t look forward to just playing this year and being done. I want to continue to keep playing.”
Entering his age 36 season, McCutchen isn’t the player he used to be, but he’s still a capable major leaguer. Playing for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022, McCutchen spent the majority of his time (82 games) at designated hitter, hitting .237 with 17 home runs and an OPS+ of 99, just shy of league average. A right-handed batter, he’ll likely platoon at DH with Carlos Santana, a switch-hitter who primarily hits lefty.
McCutchen added another 50 appearances in the outfield, where he can fill in as needed in an inexperienced room. With four defensive runs saved, he was actually a better fielder last year than he was in 2017, his last season in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his most important contribution to the Pirates, however, will be his familiarity with the ups and downs of Pittsburgh baseball. McCutchen noted in his re-introductory press conference that he doesn’t just know how it feels to win with the Pirates: he’s been a part of 100 loss teams as well.
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“I know what it feels like to win here, and I know what it feels like to lose here too,” McCutchen said. “I can be…that voice in that clubhouse to those guys, to my teammates and let them know what it feels like.”
The Pirates’ clubhouse was the third-youngest in all of MLB by average age in 2022. As they navigate the ups and downs of the 2023 season, the guidance of a player who’s seen it all, who’s been in their shoes, could prove invaluable.
McCutchen is under contract for one season, and it’s anyone’s guess what he’ll do next year. For now, McCutchen brings a spark that’s been nearly impossible to find at PNC Park in recent years: hope.