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What the Andrew McCutchen trade means for the Cubs

The Cubs’ divisional rivals in Pittsburgh will look quite different this year.

Andrew McCutchen bats against the Cubs last September in Pittsburgh
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Andrew McCutchen, who has been the face of the Pirates franchise for nearly a decade, is heading out of Pittsburgh:

It’s not yet clear who is going back to the Pirates in this trade, but it’s not likely anywhere near the haul that the Bucs got for Gerrit Cole, because McCutchen, who is scheduled to be paid $14.5 million this year, is a free agent at the end of the season.

The Giants, who lost 98 games in 2016 after being a playoff team four of the seven previous seasons and a three-time World Series winner, apparently are thinking their horrid 2017 was largely injury-related and with the additions of McCutchen and Evan Longoria, they can make a run at a wild card. They might be right.

As for the Pirates, they’re clearly in the midst of a teardown after missing the playoffs the last two seasons. You can refer back to what I wrote about the Cole trade’s effect on the Cubs for what this deal will do to the Cubs and the N.L. Central, because it likely drives the Pirates further down in the division. They might wind up fighting the Reds for last place.

Josh Harrison will likely be the next Pirate to go as the Bucs are doing what the White Sox did last summer, only in the offseason.

McCutchen leaves the Pirates with these career numbers against the Cubs, posted in what is pretty close to one full season’s worth of plate appearances (150 games, 637 PA, 540 at-bats): .308/.403/.514 with 32 doubles, 22 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Of course, McCutchen will still face the Cubs, but just six times in 2018 instead of 19.

Andrew McCutchen is one of my favorite non-Cub players to watch. He’s talented in several different facets of the game and seems like a standup guy. I wish him well in San Francisco.