The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first moves of the offseason Friday afternoon when they picked up centerfielder Andrew McCutchen‘s club option.
The move comes as no big surprise.
McCutchen will make $14.5 million in the final year of his deal. There was a $1 million buyout had they not elected to pick the option up.
After a terrible start to the 2017 season that saw McCutchen hitting just .200 on May 23, Cutch got extremely hot for a few month period.
He slashed a ridiculous .411/.505/.689 in June and followed that up with a .322/.434/.677 July that showed he can still be among MLB’s best when he is going good.
McCutchen cooled off in August and put up an average September, but after a miserable start, he still finished with a solid .279/.363/.486 mark, hitting 28 homers and driving in 88 runs on the season.
He also showed improved defense in center field in 2017. While it still wasn’t great, he was much better defensively than in 2016.
Stewart, who hit .250/.311/.298 in four seasons in Pittsburgh receives a $25K buyout.
LeBlanc posted a 6-2 record and a 3.94 ERA in two seasons in a Pirates uniform and will receive a $50k buyout.
Neither was part of the Pirates plans going forward as Elias Diaz will assume the backup catcher job and possibly Steven Brault will transition into a bullpen role, or the Bucs can look to the free agent market for relievers.