The Dodgers’ outfield situation for 2023 remains unclear, and ESPN’s Buster Olney has thrown an interesting name out there for fans to consider. After jettisoning one former MVP from their outfield, could L.A. add a different one?
The Dodgers and Rays have interest in former MVP Andrew McCutchen, who is 52 hits away from 2,000 for his career, and 13 homers away from 300.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 6, 2022
McCutchen was on an easy Hall of Fame trajectory early in his career, averaging nearly 5.4 WAR per year across his first seven seasons. In that time, he made five All-Star teams and had four straight top-five MVP finishes, including winning the award in 2013.
Starting in 2016, though, McCutchen’s career kind of fell off a cliff. After a 144 OPS+ his first seven seasons — roughly equivalent to the career marks of Albert Pujols and Mike Piazza — he posted a 104 in 2016 and just 111 in 2016-22 combined (which is more like Wil Myers and David Peralta territory). He’s also gone from being a solid center-fielder to a mediocre left-fielder, a huge defensive drop-off. Overall, after posting 37.7 WAR across his first seven seasons, he’s at 9.3 in the seven seasons since then.
McCutchen had just a 99 OPS+ in 2022, and while he was better against lefties than righties, he wasn’t nearly the lefty masher he was earlier in his career. Realistically, the main thing McCutchen would bring to the table would be Veteran Presence, which the Dodgers really only need if they actually cut ties with Justin Turner and new minor-league signee Jason Heyward doesn’t make the club out of spring training.
Olney’s report actually came before L.A. signed Heyward, so maybe it’s a moot point now if they were considering them for similar roles. But it’s kind of hard to see either of them really fitting on a 26-man roster. If rosters were at 28 with a limit of 13 pitchers, guys like McCutchen and Heyward would still make sense; as it is, they probably aren’t part of the four-man bench for a team that hopes to win the World Series.
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