ARLINGTON, TX - First baseman Michael Cuddyer #5 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the eighth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 20-6. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rockies have reportedly signed a 3-year, $31.5 million contract with former Twins lifer, Michael Cuddyer.
The Colorado Rockies have spent most of the offseason being linked to just about every free-agent outfielder on the market. Right up until the Twins signed him, the Rockies were reported to be in serious discussions with Josh Willingham. The Great Second-Tier Power Hitter Derby is almost over, though. The Twins signed Willingham, and the Rockies are reportedly close to a three-year deal with Cuddyer. From Troy Renck of the Denver Post:
The Rockies have extended themselves as far as they will go — believed to be three years and $27 million — in an attempt to land their first big-ticket free agent since 2000. Cuddyer was weighing interest from Philadelphia and Seattle, but Colorado is considered the strong favorite.
And Jon Heyman later added:
cuddyer is in agreement with #rockies ...
cuddyer gets 31.5M over 3 years from colorado.
Of course, he could be in agreement with them that mayonnaise is gross, but we're assuming that this means he's accepted the three-year deal.
Cuddyer had been in the Twins' organization since 1997, when "Mmmbop" was a #1 hit and Jerry DiPoto was the Rockies' closer instead of the Angels' GM. And Cuddyer had been on the Twins' major-league roster since 2001, helping them make the playoffs six different times in that span.
Cuddyer had a nice year in 2011, but he's been inconsistent, with three years with an OPS+ over 120 (including last year), and four seasons with an OPS+ under 100 (though the bulk of those were earlier in his career.) The 32-year-old right fielder made the All-Star team for the first time in his career last year.
If you're a believer in WAR, you're probably not a fan of this contract -- Baseball Reference has Cuddyer as a player who is almost always between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR, which is Kevin Kouzmanoff and Rod Barajas territory. But can those players almost play second base? Can they pitch?
As for what position Cuddyer would play, it would seem that right field would be his natural position, such as it is. But there's always a chance that the Rockies could get a little frisky and put him at third base, where the de facto starter right now could be D.J. LeMahieu. If the Rockies were willing to put up with Garrett Atkins' defense for a couple of years, they'd probably be numb to the shock of Cuddyer's defense at third.
The Twins will receive two draft picks under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, though the Rockies will not have to surrender a draft pick of their own.