Don't anoint the Giants winners in the McCutchen trade just yet

Ray Ratto
NBC Sports BayArea

It's almost like the San Francisco Giants wanted to keep their second biggest player acquisition of the off-season a secret.

But evidently it wasn't a holiday for them, or for the housecleaning Pittsburgh Pirates, who having just rid themselves of pitcher Gerrit Cole for some odds and ends in the Houston system have agreed to a deal that sends center fielder Andrew McCutchen to the Giants, presumably in exchange for a package that includes pitcher Kyle Crick and may also involve minor league outfielder Brian Reynolds.

McCutchen, a significant force in the game until 2015, comes to a huge outfield that sits on power hitters, but he is also coming from a bit of a bounceback season in which all his various WARs, OPS+ and traditional offensive metrics all rose as his defensive range diminished (well, he is 31).

He is also a qualified rental, as his digestible $14.5 million salary in 2018 ends with him as an unrestricted free agent, so the Giants will only have him for one season unless he (a) falls in love with the team, (b) the town, or (c) plays well enough to stay but not well enough to get a better offer.

He will likely play right field while Hunter Pence moves to left and a gaggle of potential, led by Austin Slater, tries to tackle the vast gerrymandered spaces of center field.

Salary-wise, he takes the Giants to $191M (including the Matt Cain buyout), allowing them no more real headroom on the luxury threshold. In other words, the shop is closed until the team can match dollar for dollar.

But he adds another big name from the recent past to go with new third baseman Evan Longoria, and makes the Giants incrementally younger (he is two years and 222 days younger than new Tampa Bay Ray Denard Span). Thus, the Giants have improved themselves in talent and birthdays at the cost of a bit more than $5 million in salary. We shall learn in six months who got the better end of this exchange – the Giants, or Not The Giants.

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