Ex-Giant Andrew McCutchen gets Yankees makeover ahead of New York move

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SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Sabean sat in the dugout at AT&T Park on Friday afternoon with a World Series ring on his right hand. As he explained a trade that sent his best hitter to New York, Sabean referenced the game’s greatest prize.

"I hope he wins a ring,” he said of Andrew McCutchen, now a Yankee. “He’s invested a lot in this game. He’s the real deal. We need more McCutchens in baseball.”

The Giants, throughout the organization, think highly of McCutchen, who made an impact on and off the field in his 130 games in orange and black. Sabean said it’s possible they will try to bring him back in the offseason, calling the right fielder “a breath of fresh air” and “as advertised.”

McCutchen has not spoken publicly since the trade was finalized. He’s on a flight to New York, where he will join a powerful lineup that almost certainly will host the American League’s Wild Card Game. The Giants hoped to stay in the National League’s playoff picture, but Wednesday’s loss to the Diamondbacks was the tipping point. Instead of being five games back of the Diamondbacks, the Giants were seven back, with the Dodgers and Rockies also well ahead. 

“We were hoping to sweep Arizona and we didn’t,” Sabean said. “The odds became taller. (Trading McCutchen) was the prudent thing to do. Three teams in front of us and we’re running out of games.”

Sabean said he has not given up on the season — “we don’t like to surrender,” he said — but the page has turned to 2019 nonetheless. Chris Shaw was recalled and will get the majority of the time in left field. The Giants will evaluate what they have there, and with Shaw’s former team they will get an immediate look at the prize of the McCutchen deal. Abiatal Avelino will join Triple-A Sacramento in Las Vegas and begin playing right away. 

“He’s been more of a defensive player with plus speed and arm strength and the ability to play in the middle of the field,” general manager Bobby Evans said of Avelino. “He can play all over.”

Avelino’s numbers have taken a noticeable dip since a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A but Evans said that’s never been his game anyway. The Giants view him as a defender first and foremost, and Evans believes he can “hold his own” defensively at shortstop. 

The other prospect, 20-year-old right-hander Juan De Paula, is more of a lottery ticket. 

“He’ll continue to progress as a starter in our system,” Evans said. “He has a plus fastball and is a good athlete.”

The return was a relatively good one for a one-month rental, but it was still hard for team officials to be too positive Friday. This was not a good day for a group that has won three championships. They believed McCutchen could help lead them back to the postseason, but they’re far from that goal, though the now departed right fielder was not at fault. Acquiring McCutchen was the right move, but he alone could not solve this team’s many problems. 

“We, for most of the year, have either been in a position with one hand tied behind our back or two,” Sabean said. “Our record could be better if we were just league-average with runners in scoring position and finished some games.”

Those flaws existed and still do, and because of that, Andrew McCutchen is now a Yankee. 

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