New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants

Andrew McCutchen trade gives Yankees Aaron Judge insurance

Andrew McCutchen isn’t the dynamic force he was back in his younger days, but he can help the Yankees fill multiple holes in their roster.

The Yankees waited until the last minute, but they’ve finally made a big move to solidify their roster ahead of the playoffs. The deal to bring Andrew McCutchen from San Francisco to the Bronx would provide Aaron Boone’s team with a much-needed talent infusion.

The deal will cost the Yankees at least one meaningful prospect. Final terms for the deal aren’t clear, but Abiatal Avelino will be headed to the Giants in the deal. He is currently rated as the franchise’s 23rd ranked prospect. He doesn’t have superstar upside, but he is relatively close to being able to contribute in the majors.

It’s clearly a price worth paying for the Yankees. This team simply could not afford to continue to trot Shane Robinson out onto the field His .156 batting average in his 45 at bats on the season was really hampering the team’s ability to score runs consistently. This move will almost certainly end his time in the Bronx.

McCutchen’s current .256 average may not be up to the high standards he set early in his career, but it’s a massive upgrade over Robinson. The fact that he also has 15 home runs on the season in San Francisco also will provide the Yankees lineup a meaningful boost. And August was one of his best months of the season. Don’t be surprised to see those power numbers improve with the move to Yankee Stadium.

Another key factor in this deal is McCutchen’s defensive ability. He’s still a plus defender in right field despite the range he’s lost over the years. Boone will have a lot more defensive options with McCutchen in the fold.

In the short-term, McCutchen should go right into the starting lineup. The standard order of the Yankees outfield will be Brett Gardner in left, Aaron Hicks in center and McCutchen in right. That will allow Giancarlo Stanton to stay in his DH role down the stretch.

Obviously, things will change once Aaron Judge returns to the lineup. He’s still rehabilitating from his injury wrist at the moment, but the organization is hopeful he can return before the end of the regular season. There’s zero doubt he will be the starter in right once his wrist recovers enough to let him play again.

That doesn’t necessarily mean McCutchen will ride the pine. Gardner’s struggles as of late will open the door for him to steal some playing time in left field as well. It’s possible Boone might choose to platoon the players once Judge is back in the mix.

Next: Yankees need to protect Aaron Judge from himself

McCutchen is a significant addition for the Yankees on multiple fronts. At the very least, he gives them a competent right fielder to play at the moment. At the most, he will be energized by participating in a hotly contested playoff race again. If that happens, his acquisition could prove to be a turning point for the Yankees season.

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