Summer 2024

Here's what the Phillies' Andrew McCutchen believes, plus why he's worth believing in

Andrew McCutchen, at age 32 after moving between three teams in the last 11 months, just signed the richest per-year contract of his MLB career.

As The Athletic’s Matt Gelb reported Tuesday, the longtime Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder is due to make $50 million from his new three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Only his $51.5-million deal from 2012, when he still had four All-Star Games and an NL MVP season in front of him, eclipses that mark in total value. There’s no other way to frame it: McCutchen found one heck of a payday this free agency.

The four-time Silver Slugger honoree has never primarily been motivated by money, though. (There are countless examples of Cutch’s donations. The guy even cut off his once-trademark dreadlocks for charity.) As much as signing with Philadelphia signals an intent to aid a big-swinging franchise with eyes on a long-awaited playoff run, he’s never primarily been motivated by winning, either. (And not just because he endured the Pirates’ 270-377 record from 2009-2012.)

That’s because the biggest constant in McCutchen’s career — even bigger than wearing Pittsburgh’s black and gold for nearly a decade — has been a tireless effort to “keep the main thing the main thing,” as his father once said. The “main thing” is not baseball — it is a relationship with God.

Skeptics can roll their eyes, but any of McCutchen’s truest fans probably wouldn’t. Because as often as the veteran outfielder and son of a minister has proclaimed Jesus as his everlasting source of peace, he’s never been preachy, and he’s never brought anything but a smile and selflessness to the ballpark. (Plus eight different seasons of at least 20 home runs, six with at least a .285 batting average, and four with an on-base percentage above .400.)

Speaking of the numbers, there’s reason for fans of McCutchen’s new team to believe in him, too.

Despite splitting 2018 with the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees, McCutchen at age 31 posted a better OBP (.368) last season than every outfielder on the Phillies’ 2018 roster. And only emerging superstar Rhys Hoskins topped McCutchen’s OPS (.792). While his recent trajectory and veteran presence nicely mirror Philly’s 2018 Carlos Santana addition, McCutchen not only frees up Hoskins to return to his natural position at first base but is coming off a season as an “aging” player in which he had more hits (145), doubles (30) and better averages (.255 batting, .424 SLG) than Santana — in fewer games.

In the three seasons since his last All-Star appearance, McCutchen has averaged a .263-24-77 line, and his 25-game Yankees stint would’ve produced a projected 32 HRs and .421 OBP over a full year.

Phillies fans, then, should have no problem making like him — and having some faith.

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