Steamer projects McCutchen to have a fine 2019: 2.6 WAR. It’s not hard to see McCutchen being worth at least 2.0 WAR in 2020, and perhaps 1.5 WAR in 2021. That’s being conservative. He could, in fact, be a bit better. A lot of his value is actually tied up in his plate discipline and modest power. His declining defense is really where he’s been losing a lot of value.
McCutchen still has speed, although he’s not the plus baserunner that he once was. Still, McCutchen is at least 20-25 percent better than league-average with the bat. He’s at least 2 full wins better than anyone else the Phillies had to trot out there. So, at about $16 million a year, they’re paying market rate for about 2 WAR of production a year. That seems more than fair.
2019 Steamer Projection : .265/.363/.461, 22 HR, 70 RBI, 10 SB, .356 wOBA 125 wRC+, -0.7 BsR, 16.2 Batting Runs, -9.4 defense, 2.6 WAR
While McCutchen isn’t the top Fantasy Baseball outfielder that he once was, he’s a perfectly good “real life” outfielder. Many people have already said he’ll replace a lot of the lost offense from Carlos Santana, and that’s true. Rhys Hoskins moving back to first base from left field probably already saved the Phillies at least a win. So, this puts the Phillies forward even more in the run prevention department, as well as the run production department.
This is probably about a market-value contract. There’s no lost draft pick due to McCutchen being ineligible for a qualifying offer after being traded. McCutchen doesn’t even have to be that good in 2020 or good at all 2021 for this to still be an upgrade. It also doesn’t preclude them from signing someone like A.J. Pollock or Bryce Harper. It’s an overall good move for the Phillies and gives McCutchen his last big payday. It’s a win for everyone involved.