Why is this a bad move by the New York Mets signing outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two year $21 million contract? One contention, the Mets last year signing Chris Young early, was sending their fan base a message about being ready to win. The Young experiment in the outfield was a failure.
And signing Cuddyer this early in the game is also going to be a failure. The Mets did not get younger with this move, giving up a 15th round draft pick because Cuddyer declined a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Colorado Rockies. Sandy Alderson gave his thoughts about the move Monday afternoon when the announcement was made at the GM meetings in Phoenix Arizona.
“Michael is a tremendous addition to the middle of our lineup. He is a proven offensive threat who also brings versatility in the field with the ability to play multiple positions.”
A proven offensive threat in the lineup, only though when Cuddyer is healthy. And he was far from being a healthy player this past season, three stints on the disabled list with injuries to the hamstring and shoulder that limited playing time to 49 games. The Mets and their fans heard this tune in the past from previous free agent signings and trades that have been made by acquiring damaged goods.
Perhaps the Mets are using the Kansas City Royals winning theory of mixing in a veteran or two with the valuable youngsters that are in place.
This is not to say that Cuddyer will be a failure, but all signs of an aging and injury prone everyday player are pretty much the description that comprise his resume. And if the Mets want to win in 2015, as this signing shows, they need to stay healthy in the outfield and hope for a rebound and healthy year from Curtis Granderson. Juan Lagares is a Gold Glove winner in center and his bat and speed will only get better.
So was this another mistake by the Mets, a risk perhaps for what they envision in signing a veteran player under a reasonable amount of money? Chris Young got the one-year $10 million deal that was so reminiscent of another bad signing under the Sandy Alderson GM regime. And then there was the Jason Bay signing for much more money, and four years, a name that Mets fans will always want to forget.
Granderson is expected to have a bounce back year, more so with Kevin Long, the new hitting coach coming across town from the Bronx who worked exceptionally well with Granderson during their time together in Yankees pinstripes.
Certainly there were other options for an outfielder. Had they waited another few hours it could have been Melky Cabrera who declined a qualifying offer from Toronto and is now on the market. Cabrera would have been a better fit and has the New York experience, but there had to be the speculation of a previous suspension of using Ped’s stemming from Biogenesis.
Cuddyer passed a physical Monday and that was good news. But it remains to be determined if he will stay healthy and improve on that limited playing time of a .332 average, 10 home and 31 RBI season of 2014 with the Rockies. His friendship with David Wright assisted with the quick signing, and the Mets said they got him at a reasonable price compared to what they would have to pay Cabrera or any other of the free agent outfielders that will be on the market.
The two-time all-star finished with an average of ,331 in 2013 with the Rockies and won he NL batting title. From the right side of the plate he can be a perfect fit for the Mets at Citi Field, but that all depends on staying healthy.
This may be a start for the Mets to compete and they did send a message about being serious contenders in 2015. However, the available options in the later stages of this free agent signing period may have been a better option, though the word is the Mets hierarchy was once again in that conscious mode of limited spending as to what was available.
Meaning, once again the Mets went the easy way and inexpensive route to upgrade their offense in an outfield spot that needed help. And like the Chris Young deal the results of this move will have to wait and see, but only If Cuddyer stays healthy and is productive the Mets are that much better.
This leads to the name of Troy Tulowitzki. Shortstop is the other priority on the Alderson list and right now the position belongs to Wilmer Flores who has the capability of improving at the plate. But similar to the outfield spot, the Mets want more production to be serious contenders.
Does Tulowitzki and a trade become viable for the Mets at the position? This is another veteran and injury prone, 91 games for the Rockies this past season with a .630 slugging percentage. Again an injury prone player who becomes a risk if the Mets, as intent as they are, continue to pursue him for short.
And again the Mets are not getting younger with this potential move, though they get the experience and when healthy Tulowitzki is a good fit in the lineup. But the question is why bring in another player that saw more time off the field in 2014 and can’t stay healthy? The question marks would have to be addressed if the trade does become reality and there appears to be continued discussion.
If the price is right, and the expense of not giving up more than one of the young pitching studs the Mets have in place, a more viable move at short would be a trade for the Cubs’ Starlin Castro. But there has been resistance as Castro may be one of those costly options that cuts off that discussion.
This all comes down to spending and timing. In due time the youngsters the Mets have developed will improve. The matter of bringing proper players with experience to the roster has to also be addressed. A physical of good health now, and with April still many months away, does not assure that Cuddyer or a Tulowitzki will be healthy for a 162-game season and rigor of spring training.
In due time the Mets will be in the postseason, but it has to be done at the right expense to add the one or two players needed to assure October baseball is in their future. Cuddyer is not the answer.
Still months and weeks away before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. And already a question mark for the Mets with Cuddyer as their first move.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso www.newyorksportsexaminer.com