The Pittsburgh Pirates have a ton of work to do if they hope to work toward their first postseason berth since 2015. But the team got their major winter movement started with a no-brainer: Andrew McCutchen, five-time All-Star and Pittsburgh icon, will be returning to the team for his 16th Major League season (and his 11th in the Steel City) on a one-year, $5 million deal.
Sources: Pirates bringing Andrew McCutchen back. One year, $5 million. Story to come.— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) December 19, 2023
McCutchen, 37, made a triumphant return to Pittsburgh last season after five years away and picked up right where he left off. He slashed .268/.383/.425 with 10 homers in 74 games during a sensational first half. Despite rumors swirling and plenty of interested contenders at the trade deadline, the Pirates declined to deal their face of the franchise, with owner Bob Nutting telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that “Andrew should stay a Pirate as long as he wants to.”
McCutchen’s 2023 season was cut short in early September, when he suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles while legging out a double. The injury didn’t require surgery, and the fact that the Pirates have re-signed him suggests that he’s on schedule to return for the start of spring training in February. In addition to providing some much-needed thump from the DH spot in Pittsburgh’s lineup, McCutchen is also approaching a career milestone: He’s sitting on 299 career home runs, and his 215 home runs as a Pirate are the fourth most in franchise history behind Hall of Famers Willie Stargell (475), Ralph Kiner (301), and Roberto Clemente (240).
This should be the first of many moves for Pittsburgh, as they attempt to build on a promising young core and pull out of a years-long rebuild. Given his age and the injury he’s coming back from, McCutchen figures to be resigned to DH duties, with Jack Suwinski and Bryan Reynolds locked into two of the three starting outfield spots. Former No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis could occupy the third, but with young catcher Endy Rodriguez missing the upcoming season after elbow surgery, Davis could be needed behind the plate. Regardless, another bat and some serious work on the starting rotation are required to supplement Davis, Rodriguez, Liover Peguero and the Pirates’ other young position players.