The Cincinnati Reds are one of several teams showing interest in free agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Outfield is one of the, if not the weakest spot on the roster for the Reds. As things sit right now there’s not a single outfielder on the 40-man roster who is penciled into the opening day lineup.

Things were a bit up-and-down for Andrew McCutchen in 2022, but they were mostly down. Overall on the season he hit .237/.316/.385 – good for an OPS of exactly .700 and good for an OPS+ of 99 (making him the tiniest amount of below-average at the plate). But he had one big month during the year. In June the now 36-year-old hit .315/.411/.500 as he posted a .911 OPS. In the other five months of the season his OPS totals were .639, .501, .750, .648, and .687. That .750 OPS was solid, but being under the .700 mark for four months isn’t a promising sign.

In April and May, Andrew McCutchen didn’t do a whole lot of walking. He had just 10 total walks in 167 plate appearances. But from June through the end of the year he had 47 walks in 413 plate appearances. That’s a 6% walk rate jumping up to an 11.3% walk rate – nearly double. That’s good to see if you’re looking for a reason why he may be able to rebound some despite being 36. But he also hit just .211 in the second half of the season and his strikeout rate went from 19% to 24%.

Defensively the days of McCutchen playing center on a daily basis seem to be over. He spent almost all of his time in the corners last season when he wasn’t the designated hitter – which he was more than anything else. Interesting note here is that he was significantly worse at the plate when he was the designated hitter than when he was playing in the field (just a .653 OPS as the DH).

It’s likely that Andrew McCutchen would upgrade the Reds roster for 2023. But the upgrade would likely be minimal unless something unexpected were to happen.

68 Responses

  1. west larry

    I hope the reds don’t sign him. He is way past his prime. The reds don’t need a moose type player in the outfield.

    • Kevin Fox

      I hope the reds do sign him. He is a veteran type player.

  2. Don

    Over 35? Check
    Less than 20 HRs last season? Check
    Single digit SBs each of the last five seasons? Check
    A BA under .240 for each of the last two seasons? Check

    Yep…I can totally see the Reds signing him.

  3. LDS

    Why? There are better choices on the market and since they don’t have any OFs on the horizon, signing a younger guy for a few years makes more sense. That is, if they were going to pretend to care about winning. My guess is that Bell would start him daily if he was acquired. Maybe he can play 3rd/1st. To be a “successful” Red, the player has to have utility.

  4. Daytonnati

    I always liked him as a player and teammate, but a HARD PASS.

  5. DW

    Definitely a no! Which means he will probably be signed.

  6. TR

    McCutchen was often a pain for the Reds during his Pirate days, but if this is the best the Reds can do to stabilize the outfield for 2023, then I’d prefer they go with the three F’s, Friedl, Fraley and Fairchild.

    • JayTheRed

      Yes, I think the Reds would get better production from their current players.

      • TR

        A 4th. and 5th. starter is needed to go with the young core of Greene, Lodolo and Ashcraft. And give us fans a good, strengthened bullpen in 2023 with the offense coming from India, Stephenson and a, hopefully, breakout final year from Joey Votto.

  7. Optimist

    Agree with all these comments in spirit, BUT, it’s the Reds. Have always had great respect for Cutch, and believe Joey has expressed the same. Actually thought they should have gone after him the past few years. Of course, aligning the budget is the issue, and he was out of their range, but probably not now. Considering what they spent for Pham, Solana, and even Naquin, I can see them looking at a 1-year/4m offer, which might be good enough.

    The concern then is who is he taking at-bats from, and so far the answer is who cares. Unless and until one of the F’s or prospects breaks out, it won’t matter in 2023.

  8. Mark Moore

    My eye test says he’s not at the declined level we continue to see from 4M, but I’m skeptical. He’s not going to play CF even in a “smaller park”. Father Time is still undefeated (as others keep saying).

    Plus I suspect others will pay more for him as a part-time option than we will even with the intent of playing 130+ games.

  9. old-school

    Josh Bell 2 years and $33 million to the guardians.

    That would have been a great signing for the Reds in GABP for DH/1b and a big bat. Hopefully the Reds are making those deals 1 year from now.

    • LDS

      Small market, don’t you know? Oh, wait, so is Cleveland. And Cleveland’s payroll is still probably less than the Reds. They just have a decent manager and a good development system that fields a competitive team. Something Castellini is unwilling to do. But he does like nepotism (and yes men), regardless of the outcome.

    • David

      Josh Bell looks like he put on a lot of weight.
      Might not be the great acquisition that some people thought.

      • LDS

        He may not be. It does however point out the difference in the two organizations. Cleveland tries to win. That the Reds haven’t been mentioned in connection with any of the 2nd-tier OFs, eg Bellinger, Benentendi, or even Gallo is malpractice. None are likely to cost more than $20m AAV.

      • earmbrister

        LDS, why in the world would the Reds sign an outfielder with an AAV of $20MM? So they can win 72 games instead of 62 games? Cleveland has finished 1st or 2nd in their division (a pretty poor division compared to the NLC) for the last 7 years. They should be making FA acquisitions of note coming off a division win. The Reds should be keeping their powder dry until several of the prospects obtained in the sell-off arrive in MLB.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Because some people want the Reds to try to win as many baseball games as they can and not just continuously push trying down the road for a day that may literally never come. The Reds haven’t won a playoff game in a decade. I would like to see that before I die. I’m not getting younger.

      • LDS

        @earmbrister, the Reds do not have any prominent OF prospects. Signing a guy like Benintendi for $15-20m AAV for 3-4 years is filling a hole the Reds don’t have a solution for. And converting a bunch of infielders to the OF is at best a gamble.

      • BK

        So, one playoff game makes the Reds a success?

      • JB

        Let’s remember prospects are just prospects until they succeed. Most prospects fail more than succeed. Example Senzel, Robert Stephenson….I would rather sign someone like Benitendi than wait on somebody who may never put it together.

      • earmbrister

        Frankie, signing a player or two at $20MM AAV is not getting this team into the playoffs, much less winning even one game (see ’20 vs Braves, Atlanta). I’m not interesting in making the playoffs for a year or two, I want to see the Reds as WS Champions before I die.

        LDS, CODY BELLINGER just got $17.5MM from the Cubs. Bellinger’s OPS+ the last two years was 44 and 78. Chew on that for a minute..

        What makes you think that Benintendi, who had an OPS+ over the same two years of 106 and 120 is going to sign for $15-20MM for a 3-4 yr contract? Benintendi’s price just went up. Plus the Astros are said to be interested in him, and I can’t believe they’re alone. Who do you think he would choose to sign with, the Astros or the Reds?

        Assuming that Benintendi SOMEHOW decides that he’d rather play for these current Reds than for a Championship winning or Championship contending team, then what? The Reds certainly aren’t contending in 2023. Flush that $20MM+. The Reds will maybe flirt with being .500 in 2024. Flush that $20MM+. So using your assumption of a 3-4 year deal, which I believe is a pipe dream, we might get good use of maybe 33-50% of that contract. That’s just bad economics.

        And as I said to Frankie, one or two players are not going to make this team a contender.

        I’ve been rooting for these Reds for 50+ years. I’m just as tired as the next guy with the losing. With that in mind, I want to see Championships not mediocrity. No pain, no gain. Go Reds.

    • MBS

      I liked Bell too, but OF is where I’d drop some $$$$ on the offensive side of things. Benintendi still exists, and probably not much more AAV, but at least double the years. 4Y x 20M, or 5Y x 18M probably gets it done. You do that, and 1 OF prospect works out, and one SS converts to the OF, and suddenly we have a functional MLB quality OF. Example Benintendi, Siani, McLain, that looks legit, with a slight edge to the defensive side of things. The power would have to come from the infield of the future, EDLC, Marte, CES, McGarry, India, Steer.

  10. David

    Well, that was a question we could have also asked (and some did) when Tommy Pham was acquired last winter for the 2022 season.
    Only Pham was 34 years old.
    At least McCutcheon was a pretty good player once.

    Retreads, cast-offs, over the hill, marginal roster players.

    I give you the Cincinnati Reds. McCutcheon, Newman and Moustakas can all celebrate together…or something.

  11. Nick in NKY

    Cutch? No thanks. Probably get better numbers from a full season of Stuart Fairchild than McCutcheon. Mitch Haniger is still on the market I believe. He’d cost a lot more, but he might actually provide some impact. He’s probably getable on a 4 year deal, which aligns with the theoretical contention window on the horizon. Too much to hope for?

    • Optimist

      I like each of the F’s for various reasons, none of which are the basis for signing another OF, be it Cutch or anyone else. Point being, they will sign another OFer or veteran FA, and given their recent history, who do you want – Cutch, Naquin, Pham, Solana – they are among those available.

      As for Haniger, yes, this season it is too much to hope for. And I wonder if they’ll ever have another 4+ year deal with a >30 year old. I’d bet not.

    • VaRedsFan

      Hanniger is an injury waiting to happen.
      Luckily, he just signed with the Giants

  12. LarkinPhillips

    Reports are Bellinger wants a one year deal to improve his value. GABP would be a great place to do that for him and the Reds could trade him for more prospects at the deadline. That would be a much better use of money than signing a declining vet.

    There are a lot of options out there for the Reds to do something. I would like to see them do ANYTHING other than the nothing they are doing currently and rolling out the same terrible team that is one year older than last year. At least pretend to want to try to be a real MLB team.

    • Optimist

      All true, but there’s more! Bellinger will likely demand (and get) 3-5 x more than Cutch – if Cutch is 3-5m for a year, Bellinger is almost certainly at 10, and possibly up to 20. Cutch is much more of a sure, if only marginally productive, thing as an OFer. Bellinger could be an all-star level/extremely valuable deadline trade piece, OR, as his past 2 years indicate, Aquino-level.

      Still think Cutch is it, almost wholly based on budget issues.

  13. Frankie Tomatoes

    This wouldn’t be the worst signing they could make but it doesn’t make much sense either. He is not a difference maker and this team needs a lot more than guys you could put in the category of – could be a solid contributor.

  14. Votto4life

    McCutchen would have been a decent pick up three or four years ago, but not today.

    At least it gives us a rumor to talk about , rather than discussing the highest pop ups for the Reds in 2022.

  15. Michael B. Green

    McCutchen likely has intangible value in how goes about his business. His value off the field and in the clubhouse may outweigh what he does on the field at this point in his career. His numbers could bounce back playing in Great American Smallpark too.

    I would not just discard him. He won’t be part of the next contender but he could help our youngsters mature and he’s been there. Done that.

  16. Old-school

    Reds aren’t going to add Cutch but Krall has said they are going to improve the defense. Reds don’t have a CF until maybe Siani graduates to the majors mid-season or maybe he doesn’t. Senzel isn’t even bearing weight per reports.

    Kevin Kiermaier doesnt have the bat to play everyday cf for a good team. He still plays an elite CF at a Gold Glove level and would be a nice addition on a 1 year deal to then flip at the deadline. His bat in GABP could tick up, especially with no shift.

    • Old Big Ed

      Kiermaier is headed into his age 33 season, off a .649 OPS last year. I’d rather have Siani at 15% of the price. Baseball Reference’s projections are pretty similar, and Siani is faster and probably very close to Kiermaier at this stage of their careers.

      One of the problems with the available outfielders is that they all seem to be LH hitters — Benintendi, Gallo, Brantley, Nimmo, Kiermaier, etc. The Reds already have Siani, Fraley and Friedl — the quality of whom can be debated — so to me the goal ought to be a RH hitting outfielder.

      Fraley last year, after he recovered from his injury, slashed .295/.377/.526. Benintendi slashed .304/.373/.399 for the year, with his power numbers having collapsed. Benintendi is a better fielder, but I don’t know if his bat is really much better than Fraley’s. And Benintendi would cost about 8 times as much money. For that matter, TJ Friedl slashed .267/.354/.533 after the All Star break, after having made a big adjustment in a stint in AAA.

      Assuming that they only will spend “a little money,” I would rather them get a veteran pitcher like Cueto or Miley than an outfielder, although I can see the logic of short-term deal with a RH outfielder like McCutchen or Wil Myers, who had a .815 OPS last year against LH pitching.

      • old-school

        Id look at Kiermaier as pure filler in CF defensively from April thru July 2022, until Siani gets his 250 at bats and stays healthy and proves in AAA he is ready to take over in CF. Great veteran defensive OF’ers can always be flipped, especially Cf’ers. The price has to be right of course on a 1 year deal but the Reds defense was abysmal in 2022 including CF and Krall has said he intends on fixing it. Other than Siani, Reds dont have any internal CF solutions so its a big year for him this year- but hes not ready for the big leagues yet and wont break ST with the big league club.

  17. Kevin Patrick

    Having reservations on signing McCutcheon is natural. That said, when he was good, he was real real good. I suspect what McCutcheon can offer the Reds besides his stats are intangible contributions to a younger team. I suspect he is a player of extraordinary character. There are certain guys I will never mind seeing in a Reds uniform. Andrew McCutcheon is always welcome to me…even if its just to give Joey some company. Many of the comments up here are looking at the still available free agents. I think there is a greater likelihood of the Reds picking up an outfielder in a trade. More than likely towards the end of spring training I think the Reds will try to recreate a situation where they acquire another Tyler Naquin or Brandon Drury type. If they don’t, they still can throw any of these F guys at the wall and see what sticks. Honestly, that could be as interesting as anything else this year. What I want, are two and no less than two starting pitchers that can reliably put up an ERA around 4.00. Give me that…and I’ll have a fun year watching ball.

    • Steve

      2 SP w/4.00 ERA will have to throw minimum 175 innings, each.
      Those guys ain’t cheap.

  18. Kevin H

    This move would make no sense in regards to what’s are dodoing. Slashing payroll and fielding a “young ” team. They already have Fairchild, Friedl, Senzel, Fraley and Hopkins and Sani. So I mean stick with plan. Whatever that is. This organization continues to be a joke, and I say that based on the trades they have made,and the inability to build up the bullpen, which again doesn’t seem to be getting looked at.

  19. Votto4life

    The article mentions there are several teams interested in Andrew McCutchen. So, for him to end up in Cincinnati two things must happen
    1. The Reds would have to outbid the competition and
    2. McCutchen would rather play in Cincinnati than any of the other teams .

    I don’t believe either of those statements will be true. Maybe, by Spring, if no other team has made an offer, Cutch would be interested, but I can’t see him (or any other decent FA) signing with the Reds, if they have other options.

    • jim m

      Reds are the last option below the Pirates… why go to loose?? I hate losing,a dn McCutcheon was on a World Series Team, he is old. he wants another chnace to win.. Just like Bellinger, he saw the Cubs owner say he will do what it takes to win.. We Reds fans are screwed with Idiot Bob who lies to the fans.. i am 60.. I sadly will never see the Reds win a World Series in my or my kids lifetime.. i wish more Reds fans were angry not accepting excuses this Front office gives..

  20. RedsGettingBetter

    McCutchen hit a little better than Pham did last season and I think is a little better defender too even he plays CF yet…He is fading down but that becomes him very attractive to the Reds Office….Obviously , there are so many options better than McCutchen in the market…

  21. gusnwally

    I heard Reggie Sanders and Bobby Tolan were also available.

    • CI3J

      Wonder if Prime Time would want to be the first person in history to play baseball and coach football in the same season?

    • LDS

      Yep. The Reds are playing for last place and will likely succeed.

      • Votto4life

        Yeah, I don’t get how people see this team improving over last season. Yes, there were a lot of injuries last season, but that’s true every season.

        For a good portion of the season last year, the Reds had Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle in the rotation. The team also had several months of solid production from Brandon Drury and Donovan Solano. I don’t see that production being replaced in 2023. Unless Nick Krall lands several good bats and a couple of solid starting pitchers, I can see this team losing 110 games or more. Even the best of the prospects won’t be major league ready in 2023. EDLC may be ready at some point, but he is really going to have to cut down on his strike outs. A 30% strike out rate in AA won’t cut in the majors.

    • Optimist

      17.5M. A bit below the QO, a bit above what I expected. Still 3-5 times what Cutch should get and we’ll outside the Reds budget. Good for him.

      • LDS

        Most estimates put the Reds 2022 total payroll in the $114-115m range, with the 40-man at $131m (baseball prospectus). At this point, it is substantially less than that, the 26-man @$71m, the 40 @87m. A $17.5m signing would still leave them $25-30m less than last year. And that’s ignoring the increased revenue the team is receiving as well as the sales of certain baseball assets. They could have afforded such a signing. They choose not to. Fans should return the favor.

      • Doug Gray

        These numbers don’t add up. The “26-man roster” is at $71M. The other 14 players don’t even make close to the league minimum, but if they did, that’s still just $8M. I have no idea how those two numbers get to $87M, but it’s way off.

      • LDS

        I’m just going by the COTs numbers on baseball prospectus. They may be off. Regardless, that the Reds are down more than $17.5m from last year is obvious.

      • Doug Gray

        Yeah – I’m just pointing out that somewhere along the way those numbers don’t make sense. Not sure how they got there.

  22. JB

    Reds are going to have to trade for an outfielder if their current crop doesn’t come through. Happ and Bader are about it for free Agents next year. Not a good time to have no outfield prospects on the close horizon.

  23. Votto4life

    Let’s face it, no decent free agent is going to sign here, unless it’s an overpay by the Reds and they are promised opt out options every year or so.

    The only players who will sign here are players who have no other options.

    Cincinnati is about the last place a good free agent would want to play. The only type of player the Reds could land now, is someone who is looking to bounce back from an injury or poor performance.

    This was true in 2019 and is even more so today. Sure, the Reds will leak these type of rumors to make fans think they are trying or Agents will pass these rumors along to start a bidding war.

    The Reds front office has done a lot of damage to it’s reputation over the past several years. It will take several years and a lot of money to reverse it.

    The best thing Bob Castellini could do is to come out and admit that he has failed and put the team up for sale. His ego will preclude him from doing this of course, so he will continue to destroy this market for Major League Baseball

    • JB

      Totally agree. I just can’t fathom any good free agents wanting to sign here after the hot mess of the last year. Reminds me of the Bengals and the lean years where FAs would come in and get an offer and go to another and get a better deal. This FO has made their bed.

    • LDS

      Comeback candidates, like I don’t know Bellinger? They did sign Jhonny Pereda to a MiLB contract, so all’s good.

    • Michael E

      Why would Phil and Bob sell? There seeing massive appreciation, even while obviously not trying to place a winning product on the field. Fans are chumps and they know this. No need to try, mindless drones will still pay parking, tickets, food, souvenirs. Families will still blow $250 to see 3 hours of bad baseball…I have no idea WHY, but it’s true.

      This time next year is the BIG test. When Votto and Moose are gone and payroll is tiny. WILL Castellini give a green light to spend big in FA? Like two or three 8 digit per year contracts?

  24. Melvin

    I personally wouldn’t mind seeing McCutchen come to the Reds on a relatively “cheap” contract. Maybe his arm is still good enough to play RF. Maybe his bat will revive in Cincy. Maybe the Reds will sign Benintendi too to play LF. Maybe EDLC will learn to play CF in ST where I think he will eventually end up anyway. Maybe…..Just maybe….. I’ve got a lot more maybes……..Well I can dream can’t I? 🙂

    • Harry Stoner

      Moving EDlC to CF would be another desperation (or call it clueless) move by the Reds.

      Elly needs to concentrate on one thing: consistently hitting MLB level off speed and breaking pitches. Or learning to lay off them.

      I understand the lure / romance of the 8-tool CF but it is his bat that the Reds need.

      Keep him at whatever position best avoids knee or shoulder injuries and get his K % down to a respectable level before bringing him up.

      Don’t add the challenge of learning a new–and injury ridden–position on the fly.

      • Melvin

        I just think he will eventually end up there. There is a definite hesitation by many to do that considering what happened with Senzel. I think Cruz is different though. Cruz to me, the way his body has developed, is a natural outfielder playing the infield and Senzel is a natural infielder playing the outfield. We’ll see. I do believe we’ll find out sooner than most think. As far as which has less chance of injury it’s always been my view in a general sense that the infield, especially SS, day in and day out, is harder on the body. For example an outfielder, if played correctly, should not break his toe on the bottom of the wall. That’s on Senzel. CF is less dangerous than the corners since there is no side walls to run in to. Cruz has all the tools to be an elite CF. Of course he may be able to play SS too but it will be harder and eventually take its toll on him since he is so tall. In my view CF is the best place for him to play in order to get the most out of his bat.

  25. AMDG

    Over the past 4 seasons his OPS+ has been: 116, 102, 109, 99

    That’s not elite, but he’s not going to be a liability at the plate like Moose, Senzel, Votto or Aquino.

    No harm in signing McCutchen cheap, and hoping to deal him at the deadline like Drury and Pham last year.

    It’s not like they have a lot of great, established OF on the roster preventing him from getting playing time.

  26. Pablo

    He was always a Reds killer back in his prime but those days seem long gone. This would have the same feeling as when the Reds signed Jim Edmonds at the end of his career.

  27. MK

    Andrew has certainly hit well in GABP over the years. He would add a needed right handed bat to the roster. I would look at him as nothing more than a platoon left fielder with Fraley or Friedl. If they can get him cheap with the understanding of what his role is it might be a good sign. Like Sampson he just hasn’t been the same since he cut his long locks. Sign him and keep him away from the Barber Shop.

  28. old-school

    And Wilson Contreras nearing a deal with the Cardinals.

  29. Michael B. Green

    I think we are down to Myers, McCutchen, Grossman or Gallo for a free agent OF. Myers could play 1B when Votto or Moustakas faces a LHP too. Of course, Steer could shift over from 3B or 2B then too. McCutchen offers the most tangibles and probably helps mentor Jay Allen and some of our other young OF’s. Gallo could offer the most trade value in Jul/Aug. If he got hot, he could help sell tickets too.