Former SF Giants outfielder returns to Pirates in full-circle reunion

Milwaukee Brewers v San Francisco Giants
Milwaukee Brewers v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

Longtime outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who had a brief stint with the SF Giants in 2018, was drawing interest from a handful of teams including the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. Despite the Mets and Yankees offering a better chance to win, the veteran chose to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates on a one-year, $5 million on Friday.

Former SF Giants outfielder returns to Pirates in full-circle reunion

McCutchen spent his first nine seasons with the Pirates before being shipped to the Giants in exchange for Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick prior to the 2018 season. Bobby Evans, who was the general manager at the time, was tasked with bolstering a roster that went 64-98 in the 2017 season, so he decided to acquire McCutchen and Evan Longoria in a pair of offseason trades.

Both players proved to still be productive at that point, but neither one was the impact player that he was earlier in his career. In the case of McCutchen, he took home the 2013 NL MVP award while finishing in the top five of MVP voting in four straight seasons beginning in 2012.

The right-handed bat's time with the Giants was brief, but he became a popular player despite the short tenure. In 568 plate appearances, he slashed .255/.357/.415 (115 OPS+) with 15 home runs, 55 RBI, and 65 runs with San Francisco.

He was shipped to the New York Yankees at the end of the 2018 season for a pair of prospects. The Giants were flirting with the competitive balance tax and this move was designed to ensure that they remained below that threshold.

The 36-year-old played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2019 - 2021 and the Milwaukee Brewers in 2022. His return to Pittsburgh is akin to several stars returning to where they made a name for themselves like Albert Pujols to St. Louis, Ichiro Suzuki to Seattle, and Ken Griffey Jr. to Seattle.

Of course, in each case, these players retired after these moves. McCutchen still proved to be a productive player with the Brewers last year, but he will be entering his age-36 season in 2023. Hopefully, he has plenty of years remaining, but this is the type of move that feels like he is signaling that his career is nearing an end.