It is being reported by Troy Renck of the Denver Post that the Rockies are all but inked with Michael Cuddyer…and the inking will happen today.
From Renck’s Twitter account today:
Rockies, barring any surprises, hope to wrap up Cuddyer signing today. All signs pointing toward them landing the free agent
Cuddyer was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the 1997 draft (ninth pick overall). He made his debut with the Twins in 2001 and has been a mainstay with the team since 2004 when he played 115 games. Cuddyer has been pretty durable as he has more than 143 games played in five of the past six seasons (injuries cut his season to 71 games in 2008).
Cuddyer reportedly will cost the Rockies $27 million over the next three years which means they will own Cuddyer through his age 35 season. He isn’t a spring chicken.
Over the past three seasons Cuddyer’s OPS+ has been OK (124 in ’09, 107 in ’10 and 121 last season).
His career triple slash of .272/.343/.451 is pretty much exactly what he has produced over the past three seasons. His batting average and on-base average have been essentially the same each of the past three seasons and only his slugging percentage has fluctuated. In 2009 Cuddyer set a career best in slugging when he slugged .520 but that dropped down to .417 in 2010 and went up closer to his career norm in 2011 when he slugged .459.
The past two seasons Cuddyer has a better strikeout percentage than his career norm but his walk percentage is down slightly.
All of this is good and says he hasn’t begun showing signs of age yet. Of course, he hasn’t ever performed at a really high peak, either.
According to baseball-reference.com Cuddyer has been worth about one win over an average player over the past five seasons with one outlier last year in which he was valued at three wins over an average player. According to BR.com he is below average in the field, by quite a bit and most of his value comes at the plate. His total zone and UZR numbers on fangraphs.com show that he is a subpar fielder, too.
At first glance it doesn’t look like the Rockies are getting much of an upgrade over Seth Smith (who presumably becomes completely expendable). The only problem with Smith are his splits when facing a left hand pitcher. Cuddyer doesn’t bat as well against righties as he does lefties (Cuddyer bats right handed) but his splits are not that severe and not out of the norm.
Quite frankly the Rockies need another right hand batter, as strangely as that sounds.
If the Rockies do in fact sign Cuddyer today Rockies fans have their outfield set for 2012: Cuddyer playing the easier corner outfield spot and Carlos Gonzalez playing the more difficult spot and Dexter Fowler in center.
Smith could be turned for a middle infielder as the Rockies are still looking for third basemen and possibly another second basemen; not sure they are sold on DJ LeMahieu.
My opinion? Not much of a big splash for the Rockies. They are getting an average outfielder who should provide 20 home run pop for the team. But they are also getting him past his peak and being that he has never been the most athletic player he could see a sharp decline.
The best part of the Cuddyer signing? His photo’s. Check out his flickr stream as he loves to take pictures of ballparks when he travels and some of his pictures are amazing.