McCutchen, 32, spent the first nine years of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, primarily as a center fielder, winning a Gold Glove and four Silver Slugger awards in addition to his MVP honor. He split 2018 between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees, posting a .255 batting average, a .368 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging percentage to go with 20 home runs and 65 RBI. He is considered strictly a corner outfielder at this point, but he also brings a sterling reputation as a clubhouse leader.
The Phillies, who spent much of the past few years downsizing and clearing payroll space, have been viewed as the linchpin of the offseason ever since owner John Middleton told USA Today last month that he is willing to spend “stupid” money on talent. They are widely expected to emerge with Machado or Harper, though neither appears close to signing a deal during this week’s winter meetings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
The Phillies have also been a factor in the hyperactive trade market, and the McCutchen move could make younger outfielders such as Nick Williams and Odubel Herrera available in swaps. Their planned shift of Rhys Hoskins from left field to first base in 2019 opened an additional corner-outfield spot, one of which apparently will be filled by McCutchen.
The Phillies’ addition of McCutchen was one of two major stories on the second day of the winter meetings, the other being the sudden and unexpected announcement by the Toronto Blue Jays that they released shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, whom they owe $38 million over the next two seasons. The move makes Tulowitzki a free agent, available to be signed by any team for the MLB minimum, and creates an opening that could result in the Blue Jays entering the market for Machado.
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