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Andrew McCutchen to Phillies - Fantasy Impact

A former MVP outfielder has signed with the Phillies, but it isn't the one their fans have been dreaming of since the season ended. Andrew McCutchen is headed back to the Keystone State. The free agent outfielder signed a reported three-year, $50 million contract with Philadelphia on Tuesday. The deal marks the first high-profile free agent signing at this year's Winter Meetings.

Cutch, of course, spent the first nine seasons of his career on the western side of the state with the Pirates after they chose him in the first round of the 2005 draft. Last winter, Pittsburgh dealt him to the Giants. When San Francisco mercifully failed to recapture the #EvenYearMagic of earlier this decade, they, in turn, sent him to the Yankees in a late August trade.

The Phillies remain flush with cash and motivated to spend it, and this move is not expected to end their pursuit of Bryce Harper. Whatever happens with him, though, McCutchen will patrol the Philadelphia outfield in 2019. How does this development impact his fantasy value? Let's dive in.

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A Solid Addition

In 155 games last season with the Giants and Yankees, McCutchen hit .255/.368/.424 with 83 runs scored, 20 home runs, 65 RBI, and 14 stolen bases. That production was good enough to place him right around 40th in end of season outfield rankings. He got to that level despite a slow start with San Francisco; Cutch hit .212 in April and then went the entire month of May without hitting a homer before getting on track in June. While it's a small sample - just 114 plate appearances - he also posted a .892 OPS after being dealt to New York.

That matters here because Yankee Stadium plays a lot more friendly to right-handed hitters than does AT&T Park - and so does McCutchen's new home. In fact, according to StatCorner, no park in MLB was better for RH power than Citizens Bank Park in any of the last five seasons. By contrast, AT&T Park has consistently been one of the worst places for pop from the right side. That McCutchen managed to reach the 20 HR plateau for the eighth consecutive year is impressive, given the circumstances. He has only eclipsed 30 once, way back in 2012, so that's probably not going to happen again. 25 bombs, however, seems like a realistic expectation.

McCutchen has also reached double digits in stolen bases every season of his career, with the exception of 2016. At 32 years old he's not as fast as he was in his prime, and last season's 14 steals came on 23 attempts, which isn't a great success rate. Still, 10+ steals is a safe bet here, and most leagues don't penalize for failed attempts. McCutchen has also never scored fewer than 74 runs in a season, and that total came in 108 games as a rookie.

It's worth pointing out that his rookie season is also the only time he has failed to record 600 plate appearances. You generally know what you're getting when you call McCutchen's name on draft day. He's durable, he's consistent, and while he's probably never going to be the star he was earlier in his career, the floor is quite high. McCutchen's worst season came in 2016, and even then he managed to hit .256, pop 24 homers, and total 160 R+BI. The batting average is probably the biggest question mark at this point - he's a .287 career hitter, but has failed to reach that mark in the last three seasons. In two of those years, he didn't even crack .260. Of course, the league as a whole hit below .250 for the first time in 45 years last season; a mid-.250s mark isn't going to hurt you as much these days.

As we discussed in last week's analysis of the Jean Segura trade, there remains a degree of uncertainty around evaluating any Phillies' hitter's 2019 fantasy outlook because they are still chasing Harper and Manny Machado in free agency. For the moment, McCutchen figures to slot somewhere in the top half of the lineup along with some combination of Segura, Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, and Nick Williams. That's a solid group and bodes well for Cutch's run production, although obviously, the addition of Harper and/or Machado would be a major boon there even if it resulted in McCutchen hitting fifth or sixth rather than in the heart of the order. Even without any further upgrades to their offense, Philly figures to be a much better overall context than San Francisco was a year ago.

Early mocks have McCutchen as the 45th outfielder off the board, around pick 175. The market obviously hasn't had a chance to react to the signing yet, but that's a good value pick for a player with his track record. If his price remains that low, expect him to wind up on a lot of winning fantasy rosters in 2019.


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