The title above gives half of this away, but let’s have some quick fun with numbers.
Player A: .277/.369/.469 (.838 OPS); 25 HR, 18 SB
Player B: .269/.376/.459 (.835 OPS); 21 HR, 12 SB
As the Winter Meetings rage on in San Diego and reps from the 30 Major League Baseball teams do their best to navigate the sharky waters of big-ticket free agency, we’ve already seen some blockbuster action. Trea Turner signed with Philadelphia for 11 years and $300 million, while Justin Verlander inked with the Mets for a whopping $43.333 million per year to replace Jacob deGrom, who had previously signed on for a gargantuan sum with the Texas Rangers.
Quiet has been the news for the Cincinnati Reds, but ESPN’s Buster Olney finally looped them into some news this morning by relaying the team’s interest in free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen. Given that the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays are the other two clubs linked to the former Pirate and 2013 National League MVP, the Reds would seem to be up against it to get him signed given the prowess in the win column of their competitors. That said, if playing time and a good offensive environment are more of Cutch’s thing at this point of his career, there’s obviously a chance the Reds could find a way to add the 36 year old to their ranks.
McCutchen’s career marks (and per 162 game averages) land him as Player A in the above comparison, for what it’s worth. That’s obviously frontloaded with the bulk of his outstanding Pittsburgh career, but he’s still managed to post an overall 110 OPS+ (.242/.343/.423) in nearly 2400 PA since moving on from the Pirates - stops that have included the Yankees, Giants, Phillies, and most recently Milwaukee. His right-handed bat would seem to complement the Reds quite well given lefties Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl in the outfield mix (and Mike Moustakas, if literally everything goes well, in the DH mix). In that regard, an addition of Cutch would help fill the voids left by Donovan Solano and Aristides Aquino since the end of the 2022 season (as well as some of the Tyler Naquin vacancy, too).
The Reds will have to track down someone in this mold eventually, whether it’s McCutchen or Chad Pinder or the like. The league would probably fine them if they don’t get around to putting a full 26-man roster together, after all.
Player B, by the way, was Jonathan India’s rookie season as a comparison to let it be known just how elite McCutchen has been throughout his storied career. I’ve long thought that India, when healthy, plays the game in a bit of a Cutch-Lite kind of way, and hopefully he’ll be fit enough again in 2023 to keep that on display.