As has been reported by the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen will move to RF for the coming season. This has been a long time coming; it's been apparent that Starling Marte's defense has been second-best among left fielders in the past three years (only behind Alex Gordon), while Cutch has clearly suffered from the early effects of old-age. Marte has a cannon, while McCutchen has a bit of a limp noodle out there. Marte is so awesome that he doesn't even have to try to throw people out and still does:
That's not the only time he's had a nonchalant throw like that to bait someone (if he was baiting Hechavarria here) – the dude is one cool cat.
The new defensive alignment still makes me a little nervous. McCutchen's weak arm could be an issue coming from right field, although the dimensions at PNC should mitigate the effects of this half of the time. The Pirates are valuing Polanco's speed quite a bit to put him out in the spacious left field of PNC, and I'm not quite convinced that he's better at covering ground than Cutch, despite the latter's defensive ratings last year. The ideal scenario would likely involve switching the two between the corner positions depending on the park dimensions, but that has its own issues with not having players comfortable in a single position.
I've been saying for years that moving Marte to center was the right move and it's finally coming to fruition for the Pirates. Watching how their outfield defense plays throughout the season and adjusts to the new alignment will be something to watch, even though the effects aren't always apparent.
The Pirates need Andrew McCutchen to get back on track this year if they hope to sniff contention in the highly competitive NL Central (or even just the National League in general), and a lot of that will depend on how he responds to both the offseason rumors about his potential departure via trade and this positional shift.