|New Met OF Michael Cuddyer enjoyed success in Colorado from 2012-2014.|
Monday afternoon, The New York Mets signed Michael Cuddyer, a 35-year-old outfielder formerly of Colorado, to a two-year contract. The Mets forfeited a 2015 first round draft pick.
A very talented hitter and a strong supporting piece to any lineup, Cuddyer comes off a very good stint in Colorado albeit one stunted by injury in 2014.
Cuddyer is a poor defensive outfielder whose lack of range should be mitigated by baseball's best defensive outfielder, Juan Lagares. However, this is an outfield downgrade no matter how much Lagares can make Cuddyer look better.
This is not a good signing. There is no way around it. Cuddyer is an older guy, injured, getting paid for inflated numbers in Colorado, and is likely here for being friends with the captain of the Mets. If the #15 draft selection were not part of the price, I would not mind this so much. However, Michael Cuddyer barely nabbed 2 wins above replacement while leading the NL in hitting in 2013. In the NL's most favorable hitter's park. That is how bad his speed and defense are. Given their abilities, I would let Matt den Dekker split time with Cuddyer in left.
However, what is done is done. What can we learn from it?
I see two paths the Mets take after the Cuddyer signing:
1.) The Mets go into "win now" mode and trade quite a bit of talent for quite a bit of major league talent. That might be trading for Tulo, it might mean Castro. It could be smaller like Owings or Franklin. The Mets make a trade to fill the remaining hole in their lineup--shortstop.
2.) The Mets sign a number of other free agents and punt the 2015 draft. I could see, say, if the Mets put together a large package for Tulo or Castro, it will cost pitching and a lot of it. Let's say, for sake of argument, that Niese and Syndergaard leave in a trade. A signing of Jon Lester costs a second round pick. This saves early draft picks in future drafts.
Either way, I see the Mets being very very active this winter. The point of getting something done this early (and the point of backloading it the way they did (don't ignore that)) is to take care of an obvious and immediate need and get the guy that makes sense. You then get to work on the big moves of the winter.
If I am Sandy Alderson, path two looks mighty attractive. Say you have to give up Montero and Syndergaard along with Plawecki for Troy Tulowitzki. The rotation of years to come takes a huge hit. However, you then have the opportunity to sign Max Scherzer. The Mets then get one of the game's best pitchers and one of the games best hitters for three prospects, one draft pick, and a lot of money. It's about time the Mets spent a lot of money and that trade--let's say Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, a second round pick, and a pile of money for Troy Tulowitzki and Max Scherzer--makes the Mets a whole lot better and quickly.
I do not like the Cuddyer signing. It goes against everything Alderson has preached about building the farm system. Remember, the reason Michael Bourn never made it to the Mets is for this very reason. He also preaches speed and defense and Cuddyer lacks both. While it solidifies left field, it also means Granderson stays in right. The Mets outfield defense takes a hit and even with Lagares, will not be a bright spot of 2015's team.
I hope I can excuse this poor move by understanding that it had to be done early in order for more--and much better--things to come later in the winter. Until then, hold tight.