Prior to Andrew McCutchen’s third-inning blast and subsequent 4-1 Yankees win over the Rays on Monday night, Nick Carardo reported the Bombers to have interest in re-signing the 31-year-old outfielder.
It was assumed that when the Yankees struck a deal for former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, that his time in pinstripes would be limited to the remainder of the 2018 season and no more.
After all, the five-time All-Star was predominately acquired to replace Aaron Judge, who was injured at the time. However, along the way, Cutch showed he still has plenty of juice left in the tank, while longtime Yankee left-fielder Brett Gardner began to slump.
While his batting average may take some time to reflect his change in league’s (.224), in 21 games for the Yanks, McCutchen is getting on base at a .404 clip.
His five home runs (13.6 AB/HR), nine RBIs and 19 walks in only 71 at-bats have led to a .897 OPS and talk of the Bombers bringing back Cutch in 2019 — if the price is right; this according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
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"If the Yankees can cut a reasonable deal, they’d like to have Andrew McCutchen, who will be a free agent, back next season. The Yankees like him on the field and in the clubhouse. The Yankees could part ways with left fielder Brett Gardner, who has been reduced to a bench role and whose $12.5 million club option will likely be bought out for $2 million. And yes, Jacoby Ellsbury could return in 2019."
As Cafardo illudes to, bringing back McCutchen would all but end Gardner’s days in the Bronx. A loyal 11-year veteran, Gardner flashed some heroics on Monday night versus the Rays.
Gardner’s go-ahead single in the fifth inning — followed by a leaping grab at the center field wall in the sixth, propelled the Yankees to a 4-1 win and kept their slim 1.5 game lead over the A’s for the first Wild Card spot alive.
Despite Aaron Hicks leaving the contest with a mild left hamstring strain (he’s expected back later in the week), the Yankee outfield is a crowded one.
At 35, with a $12.5 million option or $2.5 million buy-out in 2019, the Yanks will need to decide where their money is better off spent. Should McCutchen command less than the $14.75 million he made this season, at 31, he’s a better investment than Gardy.
When you consider the organization will look to give prospect Clint Frazier a legit shot at winning the left field job in Spring Training (if he isn’t traded this winter), there isn’t room for both Cutch and Gardy on the 25-man roster.
Of course, McCutchen, who is slashing .269/.443/.557 with four homers, seven RBIs and 16 walks in his past 15 games could very well use a productive September and beyond, to earn another large payday elsewhere. Only time will tell.
Despite Gardner’s loss of playing time, mostly due to a .213/.269/.234 slash with zero home runs, four RBIs and a 14:4 K:BB ratio in his past 15 contests — No. 11 showed he can still be clutch when called upon.
On the year, McCutchen’s combined line between San Francisco and New York consists of .251/.364/.789, 20 homers, 64 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 92 walks in 553 at-bats.