It was last week - a few days before the Phillies arrived at the winter meetings - that the negotiations with free-agent outfielder Andrew McCutchen began to pick up intensity. The Phillies needed a corner outfielder after moving Rhys Hoskins back to first base. McCutchen, the Phillies believed, was as an obvious fit.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak already knew about McCutchen’s track record. But Klentak needed more before committing $50 million.
“We started to do some more vetting on the person and the character of the player,” Klentak said after announcing the team had signed McCutchen to a three-year deal with an option for 2022. “You can not find anyone in this industry who can say anything bad about this player. It’s all positive. His work ethic. His teammate behavior. The way he posts, the way he hustles, and plays everyday. It’s a great fit for us.”
McCutchen will play either right or left field for the Phillies in 2019. His exact position is unclear as the team’s offseason is not yet finished. McCutchen will be an upgrade defensively for the Phillies and he will replace the walk-rate and on-base percentage they lost when Carlos Santana was traded. But McCutchen is 32 years old and players can age quickly. But Klentak is not concerned.
“I think his skillset is one that in baseball history has aged pretty well,” Klentak said. “When you go through that exercise, you’re looking at players with similar abilities and similar track records and how did those players age. I think when you look at guys like Andrew who are talented in so many ways. They have more opportunities to impact the game. This guy can run. He can throw. He can play the outfield. He can hit for power. He puts his bat on the ball. He has one of the better batting eyes and walk rates in baseball. He has plus make-up. He does everything well. There’s a pretty good chance that this player is going to age pretty well.”