If you aren’t among those believing reports the Los Angeles Dodgers may not spend big this offseason, this latest free agency update won’t make you feel any better about that. For those hoping for Aaron Judge, Brandon Nimmo, or Andrew Benintendi coming in as outfield upgrades, that might be outside the team’s scope at the moment.
Per a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Dodgers are interested in veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who is now a free agent after spending the 2022 season with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cutch has unfortunately fallen off the map since 2016 after emerging as a perennial All-Star/MVP candidate from 2009-2015. But he’s still a serviceable major leaguer, and a player of his caliber would undoubtedly benefit from being surrounded by some of the game’s top sluggers after he spent the last four years on middling offenses with the Phillies and Brew Crew.
The Dodgers technically have a vacancy in left field, which is where McCutchen would presumably slot in should LA make a push for the 2013 NL MVP.
If Andrew Friedman is looking to build depth in a cost-effective manner while also keeping the roster flexible for 2024 and beyond, McCutchen would be a near-perfect addition for such a plan.
Dodgers reportedly interested in Andrew McCutchen in free agency
Additionally, McCutchen can serve as a mentor for the many young players the Dodgers are expected to elevate for the 2023 season. If the team needs to repair some of the clubhouse camaraderie following the likely departures of Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, this might go a long way towards accomplishing that.
The 36-year-old has been good for a cumulative 6.7 WAR since the start of the 2018 season, averaging out to about 1.7 over that span. Defensively, he really hasn’t been great as he’s gotten older, but he showed improvement in 2022 as he split time between left field, right field and DH (82 game at DH, 53 in the field). Perhaps that’s the formula for him at this stage of his career.
As a part-time DH and fourth outfielder, McCutchen is a fitting target for what the Dodgers are seemingly looking for as they seek to improve their depth without committing to any other veteran players for the long haul at this moment.
With his defensive versatility, manager Dave Roberts would be able to craft various lineup cards with Cutch, James Outman, Trayce Thompson, Chris Taylor, Mookie Betts and potentially Miguel Vargas as outfield options. The Dodgers largely have their offensive core in place; they just need to make moves at the margins to keep this contender intact.