Two situations dominated the drama that was Cherington’s dalliances with individual signings.
One was the negotiated return of free agent and Pirate legend Andrew McCutchen. That was accomplished in January when McCutchen agreed to terms on a one-year, $5 million deal to rejoin the team for which he had been the 2013 MVP. He’s hitting.282, his best start since 2015, with 10 homers and a +0.7 WAA.
The other was the extension given to Bryan Reynolds, by consensus Pittsburgh’s leader. It was not without drama given that during spring training Reynolds demanded a trade. Reynolds is now under contract through 2031 via a contract in the neighborhood of $120 million.
The question with Reynolds is whether his ball-contact game can generate the kind of value a team leader must generate. He’s hitting .279 through the season’s first half with a +0.6 WAA, but his team may need more.
Carlos Santana was brought in from Seattle to play first base and hit in the middle of the order. He’s given Cherington a useable .245 average with nine homers and a +0.6 WAA.
Sadly for the Pirates, some of Cherington’s less publicized signings have not gone as productively. Austin Hedges was brought in to catch but he’s batting just .168 and ceding time to Jason Delay. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill has begun to show his age (43), with a 4.43 ERA in 16 starts.
Cherington only lost two players to the open market. Neither catcher Roberto Perez nor outfielder Jake Marisnick has been especially missed.