The Mets and Pirates have discussed a potential trade involving Andrew McCutchen, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who adds that a deal is not close.
Rosenthal notes that the Mets are exploring lots of options, and that free agent signings may be more likely than trades due to the Mets' lack of depth in the minors.
McCutchen rebounded in 2017 after a down year in 2016, hitting .279/.363/.486 with 28 HR and 88 RBI. The 31-year-old, who made $14 million last season, has one year and $14.5 million left on his contract.
He is a career .291/.379/.487 hitter with 203 HR in nine career seasons, all of which have been spent with the Pirates.
McCutchen played 139 games in center field and 13 games in right field last season, and was worth -14 DRS (defensive runs saved). He was worth -28 DRS in the outfield in 2016.
The Mets, who have reportedly been open to dealing Juan Lagares, are lacking outfield depth. Beyond Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto (who is expected to miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from a shoulder injury) and Brandon Nimmo are the only outfielders on the 40-man roster.
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If the Mets acquire McCutchen, it would have to be to play right field -- because McCutchen's defense in center field has been dreadful over the last two seasons. And playing McCutchen in right would likely mean an outfield of Cespedes, Conforto (once he returns), and McCutchen from left to right.
The sample on Conforto in center field is small. He was worth 1 DRS in 39 innings in 2016 and -4 DRS in 328.2 innings in 2017. Overall in the outfield in 2017, he was worth -2 DRS in 818.2 innings. Acquiring McCutchen and shifting Conforto to center wouldn't be ideal. But it would just be a one-year fix.
On the offensive side of things, McCutchen's bounceback year doesn't seem like a mirage. His BABIP (.305) was below his career BABIP of .328, and his fly ball, ground ball, and line drive rates were right around his career averages. He also drastically cut down on strikeouts (he struck out 116 times in 2017 after striking out a career-high 143 times in 2016).