Free Agent Stock Watch: Michael Cuddyer

The Twins are all Michael Cuddyer has ever known.  They drafted him ninth overall as a high school shortstop in 1997, and he reached the Majors in 2001.  Cuddyer's Twins career has spanned 11 seasons and 1,130 games (plus 22 in the postseason) to date.  He's mostly played right field, but has also logged innings at the infield corners and second base.  Cuddyer's career batting line is .271/.343/.451, which is similar to his work this year.


Cuddyer has earned about $29MM in his career, most of which comes from a multiyear contract he signed in January of 2008.  That became a four-year deal when the Twins exercised his $10.5MM option for 2011.  33 years old in March, Cuddyer is closer than he's ever been to free agency.  The Twins held on to him at both trade deadlines this year, despite interest from the Phillies, Braves, Giants, Red Sox, and Angels.  Cuddyer wants to stay, and the Twins reportedly floated a two-year, $16MM deal in August.  Joe Christensen said talks didn't get beyond that trial balloon, and the player prefers to resume talks after the season.  Cuddyer is represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, as our agency database shows. 

In our latest Elias Rankings projections, Cuddyer profiles as a Type A free agent.  The Twins clearly want him back, but offering arbitration would result in a salary north of this year's $10.75MM salary.  My guess is that the Twins won't consider the draft picks worth the risk and will not offer arbitration if it gets to that point.  Cuddyer figures to be a popular free agent target in a market light on offensive depth, and his value will only increase if he doesn't cost a draft pick.  I think Cuddyer could find three years and $30MM on the open market, so the Twins might have to improve their offer to something in the three-year, $27MM range to get a deal done.  He "might need some convincing" to re-sign, tweeted ESPN 1500's Phil Mackey yesterday.  If talks with the Twins fall through, teams like the Red Sox, Athletics, Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies, and Giants are speculative suitors.  

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

43 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Michael Cuddyer Leave a Reply

  1. To the Nationals for 7 years $126,000,001 million.

  2. I would offer arbitration. I can’t imagine it would be much more than $12M. It would only be one year of an aging outfielder with an injury history. That way the Twins could find out which direction the organization is headed before investing too much money in him.

    • Our resident Twins expert and fan Steve Adams mentioned to me just now that his guess is that the team would be OK with offering arbitration.  So we definitely have to consider that possibility.

      • Steve Johnson 4 years ago

        Personally, I cannot see them not offering arbitration given the media indications of how much the organization likes him, that he’s the only credible and established RH bat they have, and that he’s pretty popular with fans.  Just like Pavano, they may be more than willing to overpay him on a short-term contract.

        however, I see Cuddy turning down the offer for a multi-year contract.  At his ageperformance, it just doesn’t make sense not to.

        • CrisE 4 years ago

          They will offer because they like him and don’t have better options right now.

          And they won’t end up paying an arb contract because, depending on what the market brings him, he’ll either sign for too much elsewhere or negotiate a deal in MN for two years plus an option.

  3. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in left field for the Reds at two years $16 million, but they won’t be able to pay even that.  Of course they may have younger players that might be able to put up similar stats but didn’t give them much of chance this season.

  4. rockiesmagicnumber 4 years ago

    Stay away, Rockies. Stay far away.

    • Rabbitov 4 years ago

      Makes sense. Why would the Rockies want useful players? 

      • rockiesmagicnumber 4 years ago

        Bad fielder on the very wrong side of 30? WHERE DO I SIGN?!

        • Rabbitov 4 years ago

          Very wrong side of 30 = 32? 

          • rockiesmagicnumber 4 years ago

            Yep, and 33 on Opening Day.

          • Aaron Weber 4 years ago

            Bad fielder? He may not be fast but he plays the wall as good as I have seen and he has a cannon of an arm.. Nobody runs on cuddy

          • rockiesmagicnumber 4 years ago

            Brad Hawpe played the wall well and also had a cannon of an arm. Doesn’t change how bad he was as a RF.

            I probably overspoke on Cuddy. He’s not a bad baseball player. But I don’t want to see the Rockies overpay in years for maybe half of the production they’d be expecting (like, years 1/2 would be good-to-decent, and then 3/4 would be a full collapse). That’s all.

  5. Tigers could use him as a second basemen and I think he would be a great fit, instead of the revolving door they used this year

    • jls9274 4 years ago

      If Cuddyer is Detroit’s Plan A at second base going into next season then I pity Tigers fans.

      • Steve Johnson 4 years ago

        But I feel good about the prospects of whoever is manning right field to pick up any grounder to the right of second base….

  6. With the potential black holes in the lineup that the potential further injury suffering Morneau and Mauer present, not at least offering arbitration to Cuddyer is insane, unless you’ve decided to do a complete overhaul of the team. Even IF Morneau plays next year, it will need to be as an everyday DH. Sure you could slot Mauer over at first, but then you’ve got an 8 man lineup, unless a more offensive minded catcher comes along. Now you’re looking to replace Cuddyer as well? Not a good plan at all. 

  7. A 1 year deal through arbitration may be ideal for the Twins.  A 3 or 4 year deal worth $10 M a year could really hurt the team if attendance goes down next year, which should be expected considering how many season ticket holders they’re going to lose this off-season.

    What I imagine happening is him accepting arbitration and get $12 M, maybe $13 M for 2012.  Then, he’ll have one of his more average season’s next year, and sign a fair contract like 3 years/ $18 Million for 2013-15.

    If anyone was ever going to stay a Twin for their entire career, it would be Cuddyer.

    But when it comes to Bill Smith, he pretty much screws everything up, so we shouldn’t expect anything different for this situation.  Either he’ll be scared of upsetting fans and he’ll match the Nationals $100 M offer, or he’ll low ball him just like he did with Torii. 

  8. baybombers 4 years ago

    he is kinda getting up there in age

  9. chico65 4 years ago

    Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff, and Orlando Cabrera all think he’ll be a perfect fit for the Giants then

    [Meant to be in reply to baybombers]

    • baybombers 4 years ago

      hahahaha yeah, he fits the requirements of bochy. O-cab and tejada were absolutely worthless

  10. Twinseatingtigers 4 years ago

    You forget, he also has pitched, played left, and center. He also played short. Only position he hasn’t played is catcher.

    • chico65 4 years ago

      Hmm.  I think tigers are more likely to eat twins, assuming the twins are unarmed. 

  11. disgustedcubfan 4 years ago

    Cuddy  to Boston for 3 years, playing right field.

    • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

      They will go into next spring with Reddick and Kalish trying to win the RF Job and likely have Mcdonald be the 5th outfielder, Also considering the progression of Brentz and Hassan they have plenty depth at this point but i guessing they go after a power hitting RH OF like Raul Ibanez.

      • bglaszcz 4 years ago

        I sure hope you’re wrong about them going after Raul Ibanez. 

        • Threat_Level_RedSox 4 years ago

          Me too, but unless someone developes power in the next two weeks there going to look for cheap veteran player to compete for playing time. I dont see them paying for Josh Willingham; Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick would be interesting targets, Ordonez and Andrew Jones may be in play but the lack of playing time may cause problems.

      • Guest 4 years ago

        Raul is a left handed hitter.

  12. $1742854 4 years ago

    Cuddy’s definitely a good risk to offer arb to, since he’s a clubhouse leader, consistent offensive numbers, and can play multiple positions. He’s come up clutch as the other so-called “leaders” on the Twins club (Mauer, Morneau) haven’t been able to play (allegedly). If he declines, we add draft picks to our already high pick in the ’12 draft. Gotta start thinking like Tampa Bay on occasion…

  13. carlpavanosmustache 4 years ago

    Twins would be insane if they didn’t offer arbitration.  They love the guy so they wouldn’t mind having him back on a one year deal, and cuddy should be able to get 3 years from somebody well north of $25 mil so he’d be likely to turn it down anyway. 

  14. mondaymorninggm 4 years ago

    i cant see too many teams giving him multiple years at 10+ mil a season. guys who hit 20 homeruns and drive in 70 can be found in your system. guys getting that kind of money should be difference makers.

  15. Joveoak 4 years ago

    I was going to say “Cuddyer to the Mets” but then I realized he’ll be 33 by 2012’s Opening Day, so no.

    • johnsilver 4 years ago

      Wilpon and his financial situation aside.. NYM already got burned with Bay in that huge park, Cuddyer in that huge park would be a worse mistake wouldn’t you think?

  16. 0vercast 4 years ago

    The Twins have been known to overpay on short-term deals rather than offer the extra years.  My guess is that he chooses to stay for a bit of a discount, or else they offer him arb.

    The Twins need Cuddyer more than you might think.  With the possible loss of Nathan, he’ll be left as the sole clubhouse leader.  Cuddy is one of the classiest, toughest, and most versatile players in recent Twins history, and they will really miss him if he leaves.  The Twins FO should think back to what the loss of Torii Hunter did to this teams chemistry, and write the man a check.  What other bright spots do Twins fans have to look forward to in 2012?

    I recently looked back at all the games I went to this year at Target Field(15 in all, record was 3-12), just because I was curious what the average score was(7 for the opponent vs. 3.25 for the Twins), and I saw that Cuddy played in all 15 games, and Joe Meower played in 2, and Morneau in 5.

    • Wayne19 4 years ago

      I agree that the Twins will wisely offer him arbitration or he stays for a discount. But I have to question your argument that a lesson should be learned from losing Hunter in free agency. His loss hurt team chemistry so much that the Twins went from 79 wins in his final season to 88, 87, and 94 wins in the next three years without him. Plus there was his clubhouse fight with Morneau, so I had the impression he was much better with reporters than he was with most teammates. That’s not to say Cuddyer isn’t a valuable clubhouse guy, but I don’t think the Hunter situation has any bearing here (aside from placing a value on productive, but aging outfielders).

      I also have to question your implication that Cuddyer is somehow tougher than Mauer. In fact I really don’t understand any of the vitriol in Minnesota toward Mauer this year. Sure, he missed almost half of the season, but from 2006-10 he was historically great from a statistical standpoint and has been nothing but a positive role model in the community (much like Cuddyer in that regard). Since claiming a full-time starting job in 2005 he’s played 883 games, with the vast majority at the most demanding position on the diamond. During the same period, Cuddyer has played 931 games, mostly at two of the least demanding positions. Why is one of them “tough” while the other one gets called “Meower”?

  17. Twins have virtually no pitching. Time to rebuild. Morneau probably done. Move Mauer to first. As far as Cuddyer he is the type of player that performs better on an average team. Put him on a good team and he will struggle.  Red Sox are finding this out with guys like Lackey, Crawford.

  18. Bled Orange 4 years ago

    A veteran who’s better days are probably behind him that wants a multi year 14 mil deal?

    Brian sabian must be licking his chops right now. I can’t wait till he is hitting 220 in black and orange next year

  19. zzaacckk 4 years ago

    I want the Twins to offer arb since he’ll decline. I wouldn’t give him more than $7 mil/year over two years. 

  20. game_7_1991 4 years ago

    Twins fans, raise your hand if you trust the front office to handle this situation.  Keep your hand up if you expect them to go fetch some decent pitching this off-season.  No hands up?  Me either.

    As much as I like Cuddyer, I wouldn’t be too upset if he signed elsewhere IF IF IF IF the front office used the extra $10-12 mil that we assume Cuddy would get, to get some pitching.  Kubel is a few years younger and will cost less.  If they’re at all willing to let Cuddyer walk, they should have traded him before 7/31 and go after him as a F/A.

  21. $491966 4 years ago

    Just remember – you heard it here first. Mike Cuddyer will be Nancy Drew’s replacement in right field come next spring.

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