MLB Free Agents 2012: Why Boston Red Sox Should Sign Michael Cuddyer

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIDecember 5, 2011

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 3, 2011 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Aside from the entire pitching situation and whether Red Sox GM Ben Cherington will re-sign David Ortiz or not, right field will be a topic of discussion in Boston.

Finally, and I mean finally, JD Drew's contract has expired and the Red Sox have some flexibility.

We saw a slew of backups last season as Drew only played 76 games, headlined by Josh Reddick to replace him. We even got the pleasure of seeing Adrian Gonzalez play the outfield during interleague play. 

Boston has the option to choose between two great outfield prospects in Reddick and Ryan Kalish. Reddick played 56 games in right field last season and did a solid job. His poor hitting after the All-Star break, however, is cause for concern.

Kalish, meanwhile—the No. 2 prospect in the organization according to—missed most of the Triple-A season due to injury but did see a significant amount of time in the majors last season.

ESPN's Keith Law also speculates that Boston could trade either Josh Reddick and/or Ryan Kalish in return for a more experienced player.

This offseason we have already seen two outfielders that Boston had been rumored to be interested in sign with other teams. Grady Sizemore agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Cleveland Indians, while David DeJesus agreed to a two-year, $10 deal with Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs.

Free agents Josh Willingham and Carlos Beltran will command much more than $5 million a season but are still candidates the Red Sox should stay in contact with.

The most appealing outfielder left on the market is former Twins All-Star Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer was ranked 15th among available free agents and the second-best outfielder by Law. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 2011 while playing a variety of positions.

When meeting with the Phillies just under a month ago, Cuddyer explained to manager Charlie Manuel, "Charlie, I'm a baseball player. I'll play anywhere you want me to play, and I'll do a good enough job that it will pass."

This is the kind of guy that every team would love to have on their roster. Boston needs a leader in the clubhouse that loves to play the game, much like the personality of Dustin Pedroia. 

Cuddyer is a Type A free agent, which will cost Boston a draft pick, but Cherington needs to put someone reliable in right field. The 32-year-old outfielder primarily hit third and fourth in the Minnesota lineup, but a move to Boston would give him a chance to move down in the lineup and alleviate a little pressure off of him.

He would fit into the Boston five or six slot nicely, mostly hitting behind Kevin Youkilis or David Oritz (pending Ortiz's re-signing). If Ortiz signs elsewhere, you could see either Reddick or Kalish play some right field, while Cuddyer can either DH or play first base in relief of Gonzalez.

Michael Cuddyer will receive plenty of offers but Boston should do their best to get this potential steal of an outfielder, as it will pay immediate dividends.