The Mets stunned their fans and probably the baseball world Monday when they signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million deal. Let’s look deeper into this sudden move.
First of all, the timing was strange. Why sign someone so soon into the free agency period? The only logical explanation is that Cuddyer told the Mets he was going to take the Rockies qualifying offer of $15.3 million. The deadline to make that decision was Monday, so the Mets felt they had to act now or lose Cuddyer.
And what if they had lost him? Is Michael Cuddyer a make-or-break player? Not at all. But it appears the Mets looked at the landscape of available outfielders and decided they would all cost too much, either in terms of money or players in a trade. Long suffering Mets assistant GM John Ricco told ESPN New York that things are “pretty pricey” out there, so this gave the Mets the chance to get a player at a price at which they are comfortable.
And suddenly the Mets are comfortable giving away a first round draft pick? The Mets used to guard draft picks like Fort Knox. Now they are so expendable that they can be spent on a player who will be 36 years old when the season begins? Some are saying that the Mets are in “win now” mode, hence giving away a bit of the future. But teams in win now mode do not go out and get old, injury-prone question marks. They go and get a Jon Lester or a David Price like the A’s and Tigers did, respectively, at the trade deadline. Win now means you take a giant risk, and this move was the opposite if a risk; it was the safest thing Sandy Alderson could do.
If this is Alderson’s big move for the off-season, then 2015 will be a repeat of 2014 — just not enough offense. Perhaps this move is a precursor to an even bigger move. I have an out-of-the-box idea. Maybe Alderson is toying with the idea of selling high on Lucas Duda. Maybe Duda goes in a deal for a power-hitting outfielder, and Cuddyer moves over to first?
Or maybe they keep Duda and he and Cuddyer platoon at first (with Cuddyer filling in in the outfield a couple of days a week), with the Mets getting another big bat for the outfield? That is unlikely because they Mets would not pay Cuddyer that much money to be a part-time player.
Unless the Mets supplement the team with a power bat at shortstop (and Troy Tulowitzki is the only player like that available, and the Mets just are not going to pay that type of money), this is just a terrible, terrible move. While Michael Cuddyer is a nice player, the Mets did not need nice — they needed a game changer, and he just is not one.