The San Francisco Giants have acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. This trade seems odd — so what’s going on here?
Are the Giants trying to contend?
This shouldn’t seem likely, but if the Giants don’t believe they’re rebuilding, then they must think they’re contending. The Giants had 64-98 record in 2017, and no appeal to second or third order wining percentages said they were any better. Their pythagorean record was 67-95, and FanGraphs’ BaseRuns metric had them at 66-96. They earned every bit of their -137 run differential.
And yet, the Giants already spent some of the little prospect capital they have to acquire Evan Longoria, so there were some signs that they weren’t going to throw in the towel before Spring Training. Now that they have McCutchen, their lineup doesn’t look so bad. Buster Posey will catch, and the rest of their infield consists of Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Longoria, and Brandon Crawford. That’s...good.
McCutchen will join Hunter Pence in the outfield, although the third outfielder would need to be better than the Jarrets, Macs, and Stevens they trotted out in 2017. If they can work it in to their salary cap to sign Lorenzo Cain, the Giants all of the sudden would have a respectable lineup.
Their pitching staff isn’t bad either, with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija sitting at the top. It gets dicey behind those three, but that’s also not bad.
McCutchen won’t make the Giants contenders, but it will make them better. They were already really unlikely to be near 100 losses again in 2017 simply because it’s damn hard to be in the 100 loss area without trying to be there. Combine those things, and the Giants could be really annoying this year.
How does this affect the Rockies?
In the short term, the NL West just got harder. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks looked to be tough competition in 2018, and now the Rockies need to worry about the Giants as well.
In the long term, however, this could be the last gasp of a team that will soon be forced to rebuild. McCutchen will be a free agent after 2018. If the Giants look to be out of it come July, he could be trade bait to help San Francisco rebuild its barren farm system. At the very least, the pre-season trade means they can offer him a qualifying offer and get the benefit of some draft compensation. The Rockies are young and should be competitive for at least the next two seasons, whereas the Giants are old, and while they could be competitive in 2018, it’s harder to see it after that.
Is it okay to be slightly happy about this?
Andrew McCutchen is a joy to watch and there’s a chance Rockies fans will get to see him play 19 times this year as the Giants teeter on the edge of decline. So, yes, it’s okay to be happy.
Welcome to the NL West, Cutch. Remember, the Giants “real” rival is the Dodgers, so mostly use that sweet swing of yours to torment them.