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Andrew McCutchen on joining Yankees: 'Surreal'

Outfielder says: "I think it's about being out there, playing the game hard and having a lot of fun doing it.''

Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen of the New

Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen of the New York Yankees -- former teammates with the Pittsburgh Pirates -- share a laugh before a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 1, 2018.   Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Andrew McCutchen summed up his trade to the Yankees in one word.

“It’s kind of a surreal feeling,” McCutchen, 31, said before the Yankees'  2-1 victory over  Detroit at the Stadium on Saturday, a day after he was obtained from the Giants. “You play this game, we all know the history here, and just to see and hear the news that I was gonna be a Yankee, it’s kind of a surreal feeling.

“A lot of baseball players want to at least throw the pinstripes on for who knows how long just to say that you did it. It’s really a surreal feeling for it to come to fruition. That’s the only word I can think of right now.”

The Yankees dealt two minor-leaguers -- infielder Abiatal Avelino and righthander Juan De Paula -- for McCutchen, who had a .317/.404/.508 slash line,  21 home runs and 84 RBIs in 2013, when he was named  National League MVP.

A five-time All-Star in his first nine seasons in Pittsburgh, McCutchen -- who will be a free agent after this season -- was traded to the Giants last offseason. He  had a .255/.357/.415 slash line, 15 home runs and 55 RBIs  in 130 games with San Francisco.

McCutchen, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts as the leadoff hitter Saturday,  believes he’ll mesh well with the Yankees because of his style of play and upbeat energy.

“I think it’s about being out there, playing the game hard and having a lot of fun doing it,” he said. “I think that’s one of the key things that I bring here is the charisma, making people laugh. It seems like they have a lot of fun here, so it won’t be a hard adjustment for myself.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the need for a versatile outfielder such as McCutchen was the result of  the extended absences of Aaron Judge (fractured wrist) and Clint Frazier (concussion symptoms). Cashman also described the drawn-out nature of the deal before the Aug. 31  deadline for postseason eligibility.

“We’ve been pretty active on the waiver claim process,” Cashman said, “though with no luck. A lot of people have been taking guys off the board because we have the second-best record in the game.

“McCutchen went on waivers probably about a week ago, so he was not somebody that was in play over the first three weeks of this past month. The Giants were trying to contend and made a strategic decision to hold off. They placed him on waivers last week, he cleared and immediately after the waiver-clearing process, I engaged with [Giants general manager]  Bobby Evans.”

Manager Aaron Boone  noted the flexibility that McCutchen provides.

“He’s done a good job against both righties and lefties,'' he said. "Obviously, I like leading off [Aaron] Hicks against lefties, but with Andrew, his on-base and power presence at the top allows us with Hicks as a switch hitter to break up the lineup a little bit behind Giancarlo [Stanton]."

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