Brewers News: Under-the-Radar Signing of Andrew McCutchen Could Finally Put Milwaukee Over the Top

The Milwaukee Brewers are in the midst of the most consistent runs in franchise history. Though they have yet to break through to the World Series, the Crew has made four straight postseason appearances.

The problem hasn’t been getting there, at least not recently. The problem has been winning when they get there.

Last season, one of the poorest offenses in baseball held back what was perhaps the best pitching staff in the MLB. Brewers president David Stearns is attempting to rectify that heading into 2022.

To that end, he brought in former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. The signing has flown under the radar, but it could be just what the Brewers need to get over the top.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed Andrew McCutchen to a one-year, $8.5 million deal

Andrew McCutchen could be the signing that puts the Milwaukee Brewers over the top in the MLB playoffs.
Andrew McCutchen of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Milwaukee doesn’t have one of the largest payrolls in baseball — in fact, the Brewers consistently have one of the smallest. Per Spotrac, the franchise comes in at 17th for the 2022 campaign, which is an unusually high number for the organization.

But owner Mark Attanasio has shown he’s willing to spend money if it translates to wins, and Stearns has shown himself adept at spending that cash wisely.

McCutchen has become the latest example of that winning combination after signing a one-year deal with Milwaukee worth $8.5 million.

It’s a decent chunk of change for a 35-year-old on the downside of his career, but a worthwhile shot for a franchise looking for an infusion of offense to boost it to a World Series appearance.

The Brewers also provide the 2013 NL MVP with his own chance to win a championship in the twilight of his career.

“It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come here,’’ McCutchen said per USAToday. “Understanding this team, what it has, and what it’s done in previous years, it’s something I wanted to be a part of. I’m happy to get to be a part of it.”

Hopefully, for Milwaukee, he’s more than just a part.

McCutchen provides the Brewers an offensive spark

Historically, Milwaukee has never been a destination for a player of McCutchen’s caliber — even at his advanced age. But Stearns, Attanasio, and manager Craig Counsell have changed that narrative in recent seasons.

The Brewers won the American League pennant in 1982 before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The franchise didn’t get back to the playoffs for 26 years and didn’t win a division title again until 2011.

Milwaukee made the National League Championship Series that year and again in 2018, and the team is now on a string of four consecutive postseason appearances but hasn’t gotten back to the Fall Classic.

And lately, it’s been the Brewers’ offense that’s held them back.

In 2021, Milwaukee was led by a rotation that included CY Young winner Corbin Burnes. He was joined in a dominant foursome by Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, and Adrian Houser.

The team’s bullpen was equally as effective, with Josh Hader, Devin Williams, and Brad Boxberger nailing down the final three innings.

The Brewers’ staff had the third-best ERA in baseball and also led the MLB in strikeouts and was fourth in WHIP.

Offensively, however, the team was 27th in both hits and batting average. Milwaukee was consistently one of the most anemic offenses in baseball, and it only got worse in the playoffs.

The Brewers scored six total runs in four postseason games. No matter how dominant a team’s pitching staff, that’s a recipe for a quick exit. Something needed to change, and the organization’s president is trying to do just that.

“We’re still built around our pitching staff, we’re built around our defense,’’ Stearns said via USAToday. “That’s not going to change.

“But we also want to score a few more runs than we did last year, and we think some of the moves we’ve made will help us to do that.’’

The former Pittsburgh star hit 27 home runs and drove in 80 last year with the Philadelphia Phillies. McCutchen is by no means washed up. If he can produce at a similar level in 2022, he would give a Brewers team on the cusp of a World Series berth a significant boost.

Milwaukee has World Series aspirations

The Brewers have been close to breaking through. Really close. During their recent playoff run, they’ve had some heartbreaking losses to the best teams in baseball:

McCutchen is now part of an outfield that includes Lorenzo Cain, Tyrone Taylor, and the also-newly-acquired Hunter Renfroe. With the universal DH now in play, he can be part of a rotation that won’t ask him to play in the field every day.

(Though he is a former Gold Glove winner).

The confidence provided by one of baseball’s best pitching staffs takes a load off as well.

“They have great arms here,” McCutchen said. “There’s some guys in the starting rotation, I’m happy I don’t have to face, (I’m) going to tell you that right now.’’

Milwaukee brought in the five-time All-Star to provide a bat to go along with said great arms. If he produces and helps the Crew reach the World Series, he’ll be the best bargain in baseball.

All stats courtesy of MLB.com.

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