Baseball is officially over for another year. I’ll be gracious and congratulate the Atlanta Braves on their World Series victory, because of all the teams that made the postseason they were the ones I hated the least.
Meanwhile, out west, the Arizona Fall League is in full swing, with seven current and future Pirates playing for the Peoria Javelinas. They had a pretty good day today, with RHP Roansy Contreras sending down all nine of the Surprise Segueras (party cacti!) he faced today. Nick Gonzales also had a good day, going 2-4 with a dinger and two steals, as did Canaan Smith-Njgba, who doubled three times. He and Contreras, as we all know, came over from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, so it’s good to see them looking sharp.
Now that the season is over, the waivers and pickups begin, and the Pirates got in on the action a bit by picking up RHP Eric Hanhold off waivers from the Orioles. If that name sounds a bit familiar, it might be because of this:
Back in 2017, Eric Hanhold was traded from the Brewers to the Mets for Neil Walker.— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) November 3, 2021
So there. You want a connection mid-2010s Pirates? That's the best I can do. Sorry, it's not Cutch.
Hanhold, 28, hasn’t accrued a lot of Show time, but scouts like his upper-nineties fastball and reportedly nasty slider. He pitched 10.1 relief innings in Baltimore this season, with a 6.97 ERA. It seems to be a “can’t hurt, might help” situation. We’ll see what happens in February.
Also, there was this:
The Phillies have declined club options for the 2022 season on outfielders Odúbel Herrera and Andrew McCutchen.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) November 3, 2021
Pittsburgh still loves Cutch. His rapturous reception when he came back to PNC this summer with the Phillies was a sure sign of that. I have no doubt that sports radio is going to be buzzing tomorrow with the possibility that he might return to the Bucs to finish out his career because in his own words:
Far from done— Andrew McCutchen (@TheCUTCH22) November 3, 2021
He still lives here (his wife is from the area), and Bob Nutting and Ben Cherington know that, at least at the beginning of the 2022 season, he’d put butts in PNC seats. A McCutchen/Reynolds/Gamel outfield could be interesting. He’d be the instant clubhouse leader and a spark to younger players. The question, of course, would be money. If the Phillies had picked up his option, he would have made $15 million next year. His slash line this year was .222/.334/444, with a 1.3 WAR and .778 OPS. Cutch isn’t a stupid guy—he knows he’s not going to get that much with another team, and definitely not that much from the Bucs. He just turned 35 as well.
Nutting could definitely buy himself some goodwill by bringing McCutchen back. Fans would love it. But would Cutch be willing to take that significant pay cut to finish his career where it began so promisingly back in 2009? Would he be the piece that could help the Bucs get back into contention?
I think at the very least Cherington’s going to talk with Cutch and his agent. In a lot of ways, Cutch coming back to the Pirates would be a total feel-good story, particularly if the Bucs improve with him back on the roster.
If nothing else, it’s a little bit more hope.