Former NL MVP on his future playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates???

Former NL MVP makes decision on future of Pirates playing career
from MLB Trade Rumors, with Darragh McDonald, and from

Outfielder/designated hitter Andrew McCutchen has seemingly been reinvigorated by a return to the Pirates in recent years and he doesn’t plan on stopping.

“In my mind, this isn’t my last year,” McCutchen said to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “As long as my body holds up and I’m not embarrassing myself out there, I wanna keep going.”

McCutchen, now 37, has spent most of his career as a Pirate. He was drafted by Pittsburgh back in 2005 and went on to rack up huge accolades from his 2009 major league debut through the end of the 2017 season. In that time, he hit 203 home runs and slashed .291/.379/.487 for a 137 wRC+. He also stole 171 bases while serving as the club’s regular center fielder. He was an All-Star five times in that stretch and was the National League MVP in 2013, the first of three straight years in which he guided the Bucs to the postseason.

The club then slipped from contention for a few years and traded the final season of McCutchen’s contract to the Giants. He then bounced to the Yankees, Phillies and Brewers for a few seasons. With Milwaukee in 2022, he hit just .237/.316/.384 for a wRC+ of 98 in his age-35 season.

He returned to Pittsburgh in 2023 via a one-year, $5M deal. Given the downward trend of his performance, some expected his return to PNC Park to be little more than a feel-good story for a rebuilding club with little to cheer for in recent years.

But as mentioned, the reunion has coincided with a nice bounceback for the veteran. That’s not to say that he’s back to MVP levels but he was able to slash .256/.378/.397 last year, good enough for a 115 wRC+. He and the Bucs then doubled down, reuniting on another one-year, $5M deal. To emphasize that McCutchen is committed to continuing his playing career, Mackey relays that he actually lobbied for a multi-year deal this offseason. However, the Bucs had a bit of hesitation since the 2023 season ended with McCutchen on the injured list due to a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon.

That injury seems to be long forgotten, as McCutchen has been back in good form here in 2024. He already has ten home runs, just two shy of last year’s total, and is hitting .241/.338/.401 for a wRC+ of 112.

With the results still coming, it’s perfectly understandable that he wants to keep things rolling. Mackey suggests there’s at least some hesitation on the club’s part, as they may prefer to have the designated hitter slot open in order to rotate other players through. McCutchen has played 20 innings in right field this year but has otherwise been in the DH slot. Though Mackey also reminds readers that owner Bob Nutting has said McCutchen can stay a Pirate as long as he wants.

There may come a time when the goals of the franchise clash with those of McCutchen as an individual. He said multiple times in 2023 that he didn’t intend on playing for another club for the rest of his career. The Bucs are gradually creeping out of its long rebuild, as they hovered around the wild-card race last year and are doing so again this year. But for now, he’s a key part of the reason why they are competing, as his 112 wRC+ is second on the team among qualified hitters, trailing only Bryan Reynolds.