MLB Free Agents 2012: 5 Likely Destinations for Michael Cuddyer
The 32-year-old is coming off his first career All-Star appearance, as he hit .284 with 20 home runs and 70 runs batted in. He provides a right-handed power bat for teams in need of some offense and he also exhibits the versatility to play several positions on defense.
Here are five teams that could use the services of Cuddyer.
5. San Francisco Giants
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
This is a team that could really use some offense. The San Francisco Giants managed to make the playoffs in 2010 with all pitching and little scoring—even winning the World Series—but finished just 86-76 with the fewest runs scored in the National League.
Outside of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Giants didn’t have a single player hit more than 14 home runs or drive in more than 59 runs. Carlos Beltran provided a spark when he was brought over in a midseason trade, but he is a free agent, meaning he may not rejoin the team for 2012.
Cuddyer plays right field primarily but can also play third base, first base and second base. He has dabbled in left and center field, and he was drafted as a shortstop back in the first round of the 1997 draft.
The Giants are set at the hot corner with Sandoval, but Cuddyer would be a viable addition at right field. He is a less expensive option than bringing back Beltran, and he can fill in at multiple positions if needed.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
Harry How/Getty Images
Despite the midseason acquisition of Hunter Pence, the Philadelphia Phillies still ultimately fell short because of a lack of run production in the postseason.
Left field is a position that will need to be filled, as Raul Ibanez just finished a three-year, $31.5 million deal and won’t be back as the starter, if at all. Top prospect Domonic Brown will be spending the season in Triple-A, according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Third baseman Placido Polanco still has one year left on his three-year deal with the team, and a steep decline in his offensive numbers down the stretch last year indicates the Phillies may need an upgrade. In fact, manager Charlie Manuel has said he would like an upgrade if possible.
Michael Cuddyer hasn’t spent much time in left field as of late, but if he can play right field competently enough, he should be able to play left field.
After the defensive play of Pat Burrell for nine years and Ibanez for three, Phillies fans won’t complain as long as Cuddyer can catch a fly ball. Cuddyer can also fill in at first base while Ryan Howard recovers from his torn Achilles tendon, second base should Chase Utley get hurt again and even center field if Shane Victorino—three DL stints in the last two years—goes down with another injury.
3. Colorado Rockies
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Michael Cuddyer himself won’t make the Colorado Rockies a playoff team, but he is a power bat from a corner outfield position, and that’s what the Rockies need.
MLB Trade Rumors has mentioned the Rockies are looking to deal right fielder Seth Smith. If this is the case, Cuddyer could be a two-year filler. He also plays third base and second base, as noted, which would be an upgrade over either Mark Ellis or Ty Wigginton.
Cuddyer would also provide a good combination in the lineup with Carlos Gonzalez.
2. Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Boston Red Sox have always been big spenders, and now that right fielder J.D. Drew’s contract is up, the Sox will be on the market for a new right fielder.
Drew was signed to a five-year, $70 million deal that he never fulfilled. Michael Cuddyer could likely be acquired for a two- to three-year deal and would absolutely provide an upgrade over Drew’s line from last year: .222 average, four home runs and just 22 RBI.
According to FanGraphs this year, Cuddyer was responsible for 3.1 wins above a replacement player in 2011. The Red Sox got 0.7 wins from Josh Reddick, Darnell McDonald, J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron and Conor Jackson.
Cuddyer would have been enough for the Red Sox to make the playoffs had he been on the team.
1. Minnesota Twins
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
This is the only team Michael Cuddyer has ever known. He was drafted ninth overall as a shortstop in 1997 and has hit 141 home runs for the Minnesota Twins, while driving in 80 runs four times.
Cuddyer is the ultimate super utility player, a guy who can play a plethora of defensive positions, but he also hits well enough that he needs to be in the lineup every day. Over the past three seasons, Cuddyer has averaged .276/.341/.465 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI, while playing seven different positions.
That’s the type of player any team should want, and the Twins would be smart to keep him, especially considering first baseman Justin Morneau’s injury this past season.