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Thread: Trade for Andrew McCutchen (NJH #7)

  1. #1
    Hall of Famer NJH's Avatar
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    Trade for Andrew McCutchen (NJH #7)

    This is the seventh of many offseason threads where I'll take a stance and advocate for the Blue Jays to make a specific move.
    I may not actually think Toronto should make every move, but I'll lay out the case for it in order to generate discussion.

    Toronto Should Trade for Andrew McCutchen

    For the most part, this is a suggestion that writes itself. Nonetheless, I will try to be interesting here.

    Andrew McCutchen was bloody awful last year. He played through injuries and limped to a 106 wRC+, his already fringy CF defense fell off a cliff, and he ended up accruing just 0.7 fWAR. That put him as the 96th best outfielder in MLB in 2016... he was as valuable as Ezequiel Carrera and worth 0.5 wins LESS than Melvin Upton!

    McCutchen also pocketed $13M while sucking. He is owed $14M next year and his contract includes a 2018 team option for $14.5M.

    Of course, Cutch was one of the most well-rounded and valuable players in baseball up until his disastrous age 29 season. He was the rightful MVP in 2013 and deservedly finished 3rd, 3rd, and 5th in MVP voting in surrounding seasons.

    McCutchen's Steamer projection for 2017 of 3.3 fWAR is not necessarily very informative. That figure simply splits the difference between his terrible 2016 and his previous talent level. After a season where Cutch struck out at a higher rate than ever and ran the bases like Yonder Alonso, the fear that he has suddenly lost his athleticism and entered into a Griffey-esque precipitous drop is hard to escape. Scientifically, we should expect Cutch to regress to the mean. Unscientifically, I'm worried about the dude.

    But his talent, history, and the narrative of an injury plagued 2016 still make him an obvious rebound candidate on paper. If he bounces back to even 40% of his previous demonstrated talent then he'll probably be worth his contract and then some. At his Steamer Projection he's worth a lot more than his contract. For any team with a normal amount of money, in a nutshell, Cutch would be an obvious commodity to hold on to. But the Pirates aren't a normal team. Historically, the pitiful Pirates have operated with a payroll in the bottom ~5 in the entire league. For 2017, ignoring arbitration players, Cutch represents 25% of the team's total committed payroll.

    If Pittsburgh believes that McCutchen has gone over the hill - not an unreasonable position to take about a 30 year old in the modern game - then moving his money could make a lot of sense. The Pirates can do a lot of shit with $14M. The team also might have a capable outfield even with Cutch out of the picture. Marte is very good, Polanco is a solid regular with immense promise, and top prospect Austin Meadows has all the talent in the world and is essentially major league ready. Young hitter Josh Bell has also dabbled in the OF a little bit.

    Holding onto Cutch isn't really a risk that the Pirates need to take, especially when his track record and contract will allow him to fetch a premium trade package. Rumours are flying right now that Pittsburgh is aggressively shopping the star player. Washington is said to be "in the lead" with Pittsburgh seeking elite prospect Victor Robles - a top 10 overall prospect in baseball - and then some. Joe Ross and Reynaldo Lopez, two very talented and controllable arms who have seen MLB time, are also in the mix.

    What could Toronto put together that would look like Robles+? Well we need to start with the team's top prospects. Prospect pundits don't indicate that Toronto has anybody comparable to Victor Robles, but they do have four guys who probably slot into a top 100 list - Vlad Jr., Alford, Sean Reid-Foley, and Richard Urena. To compete with Washington's assets Toronto would likely need to offer 2 or 3 of those names. Alford, SRF, and Urena all make a bit of sense for Pittsburgh. Alford replaces some of the outfield depth that Cutch would leave in his wake, every team appreciates high upside arms like SRF, and as a shortstop Urena would satisfy a bit of an organizational thin spot for the Pirates. Let's also assume that Pitt would ask for Dalton Pompey, a controllable outfielder with an appreciable skill-set who could help secure their outfield depth immediately.

    So it's Alford + SRF + Urena + Pompey (or something like that).

    If Cutch is worth 6-7 wins in the next two years, his surplus value would be something in the ballpark of $20M - $30M.

    How much are those prospects worth? Hitters in the #75-100 range are worth about $20M; pitchers in that range are worth about $15M. So we're at $55M without evaluating Pompey.

    But Toronto is at the peak end of the win curve, and McCutchen's immediate impact is worth more than his napkin value. Marginal wins around the 90 win level are worth considerably more than the general free agent market based $/WAR would indicate.



    Does Toronto's position on the win curve inflate McCutchen's expected value to the point that the hypothetical trade is fair? I really can't say for sure. I think it would be pretty close, but you can kind of crunch those numbers any way you want.

    Regardless, Toronto has payroll space, needs an outfielder, and is in a position where a short-term high upside risk like Cutch makes all the sense in the world. Alford, SRF, Urena, and Pompey probably aren't helping the team win very many games in 2017. When that bundle of youngsters are ready to contribute Toronto's core won't look very much like it does today. Donaldson is probably here for only two more years, so Cutch lines up perfectly to the Josh Donaldson Era of Toronto baseball.

    If McCutchen comes to Toronto and rebounds most of the way to what he used to be, that's a World Series winning move. Flags fly forever.

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    FINALLY. Thanks.

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    I'm all for getting Cutch but I don't think Shatkins will pillage the farm for him, that seems like an AA move. The new regime seems a lot more conservative to me.

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    YES

    cf (cutch filler)

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    If this team had tons of prospects I would be for it, but not for 2 years of a possibility he returns to big numbers. Doesn't make sense at all. You can just sign fowler, and he'd only cost a draft pick. This team has very few premium prospects, so trading them is not a smart move.

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    Quote Originally Posted by guylaroche5 View Post
    I'm all for getting Cutch but I don't think Shatkins will pillage the farm for him, that seems like an AA move. The new regime seems a lot more conservative to me.
    Yeah if AA was still at the helm Cutch probably would already be a Blue Jay

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    Another great read! I would like to see your analysis on the remaining LH relief options and who would be the best fit for the Jays.

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    Seems like Pittsburgh and Washington are closing in on a deal, and people are suggesting packages like Giolito/Robles + Lopez. If that's where the bidding is, we don't have the pieces.
    Quote Originally Posted by Boxcar View Post
    Unfortunately, they really skimped out on the crickets on mine because they add a pretty flavourful crunch element on top of the coleslaw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJH View Post
    Yeah if AA was still at the helm Cutch probably would already be a Blue Jay
    AA went through a prospect hoarding phase before the Marlins trade. I think most GMs are smart enough to realize when they should buy and when they should hold. Let's not be so quick to pigeonhole Shatkins into a particular paradigm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTS View Post
    Seems like Pittsburgh and Washington are closing in on a deal, and people are suggesting packages like Giolito/Robles + Lopez. If that's where the bidding is, we don't have the pieces.
    That would be a great haul for Pittsburgh. We can't beat that, so hopefully it's not true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xposbrad View Post
    If this team had tons of prospects I would be for it, but not for 2 years of a possibility he returns to big numbers. Doesn't make sense at all. You can just sign fowler, and he'd only cost a draft pick. This team has very few premium prospects, so trading them is not a smart move.
    I don't really see why the number of good prospects a team has in the system should have any bearing on whether it is a good idea to trade them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dinger View Post
    AA went through a prospect hoarding phase before the Marlins trade. I think most GMs are smart enough to realize when they should buy and when they should hold. Let's not be so quick to pigeonhole Shatkins into a particular paradigm.
    Absolutely. We did just see the front office descendants of Shatkins trade Clint Frazier++ for Andrew Miller, after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendleton View Post
    Another great read! I would like to see your analysis on the remaining LH relief options and who would be the best fit for the Jays.
    Boone Logan was suggested in a past thread. If I have time I will probably turn that suggestion into a LH relief options (trade and free agency) survey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Negative View Post
    I don't really see why the number of good prospects a team has in the system should have any bearing on whether it is a good idea to trade them.
    We have two years left of Donaldson, that is by far the most important factor here. We need to try to win while we still have an MVP caliber player anchoring our team. If that doesn't pan out, then we can rebuild.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NJH View Post
    Absolutely. We did just see the front office descendants of Shatkins trade Clint Frazier++ for Andrew Miller, after all.
    We also have a very different payroll than Cleveland. The smaller your payroll, the more you have to hold onto prospects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dinger View Post
    We have two years left of Donaldson, that is by far the most important factor here. We need to try to win while we still have an MVP caliber player anchoring our team. If that doesn't pan out, then we can rebuild.
    I'd be in favor of trading Donaldson now if we could get a return to help us this year. Something involving the Dodgers for Pederson and Urias for example (they wouldn't do it mind you, although apparently they are in on McCutchen), then sign Turner.

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