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In McCutchen, Yankees Get Their Man (Again)

You probably know by now that money does not guarantee happiness. What it does, however, is give you options to do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

When it comes to Major League Baseball, no one has more cash than Brian Cashman, the game’s Rich Uncle Pennybags. When the Yankees have a problem, when water springs from the dam, Cashman has the combination to the Steinbrenner safe.

This fact of life was reiterated to MLB’s residents on Baltic Avenue again on Thursday when the Yankees, now in hot pursuit again of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, acquired All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the San Francisco Giants.

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According to MLB.com, he will cost the Yankees around $2.5 million for one month’s service, the prorated amount due from his $14.75 million salary in 2018. Still, the Yankees will remain under the $197 million salary cap threshold. How do they do it?

From the depths of the Yankees deep Minor League system, the Giants selected infielder Abiatal Avelino, 23, who had as much chance of breaking into New York’s infield as Billy Crystal did when he showed up for spring training in 2008.

As soon as McCutchen gets a haircut and a close shave (the Yankees have a strict dress code), manager Aaron Boone will plug him into right field to help the Bronx Bombers forget they are 19-14 since Aaron Judge fractured his wrist on July 26.

The internet was buzzing about the implications of the news once Joel Sherman of the New York Post broke it last night.

Two notions are at the forefront.

Maybe the Yankees aren’t so sure Judge’s timetable for a return is very realistic. That would make sense since he still hasn’t swung a bat.

Secondly, maybe Giancarlo Stanton’s cranky hamstring, which has been bothering him for a month, is more problematic than the Yankees care to admit. He has been in the lineup for 83 straight games, which means he hasn’t been able to rest it.

“There is a day off in his future,” Boone told reporters Thursday night. “With us being as beat up as we are, it’s a little tough to get your horses days right now. We’ve certainly leaned on him heavily. It’s something that we constantly just try to do what’s best for the club and the individual.”

If both assumptions are true, New York has a severe depth problem in the outfield. Here’s what is true: In last night’s loss to the Tigers, Shane Robinson (.156) played right field. Before that, the Yankees have even given veteran second baseman Neil Walker a shot at it. The experimentation is over. The NL’s 2013 MVP has arrived.

So what does McCutchen bring to the Yankees? And at 31, what might he have left should they consider keeping him around next year when Brett Gardner will be gone and Cliff Frazier should be ready?

McCutchen, a four-time Silver Slugger winner, is in the final season of a six-year, $51.5 million contract he signed with the Pirates in March 2012. He cleared waivers from the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 22, where he was hitting .255 with 15 homers, 55 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 130 games this season. He had  hit .279 with 28 homers and 88 RBI for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017.

Acquiring a player for just a month is not all that unusual. Last Aug. 20, the Dodgers looked to enhance their postseason run by getting Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets. But Granderson hit only .161 in 132 at-bats for the Dodgers and was 1-for-15 in the playoffs.

The Yankees hope McCutchen returns more for their dollar. And if not, maybe they will go get somebody else.

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