Stephen Guilbert - What the Michael Cuddyer Signing Means for the Mets

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.



Anonymous said...

MC is a risk for sure, but Tulo would be a substantially greater risk because he is still recovering from a surgery that has a history of setbacks. There is no way the Mets sign Lester or Scherzer. They already have too many starters and not enough money, so signing either one would be the biggest head scratcher of the off season. If they do trade a Wheeler or Thor, they have top of the rotation pitchers still on the staff, so they would be looking for a solid #4-5, not an overpriced pitcher who will shut down all future acquisitions. It would be nuts to even consider signing Lester/Scherzer

Kevin S said...

I'll preach this for days but Lester is my guy. He doesn't cost a draft pick to sign. He has World Series rings to flaunt. He's 30. He's a stud. Pair him with Harvey and we have the best duo in all of baseball.

Harvey, Lester, deGrom, Wheeler & anyone else would be the best rotation in baseball.

You can trade any combination of Thor, Mejia, Flores, Plawecki & Montero for Tulo without really impacting the future of this team.

Adding Cuddyer, Lester & Tulo would probably put payroll around $150M and I think it would put the Mets as the top team in the NL for the next few seasons.

DO IT!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sandy stated as recently as yesterday that payroll will be a function of break even cash flow and $150M payroll would put them under water by about $40M, so it is not happening. Even if they did have the money, there is practically no one in baseball that thinks it would be a good idea for the Mets to sign Lester. They are on the cusp of having a monster rotation under cheap team control for the next five years, why would they break the bank for a starting pitcher when they already have 4 too many? I have seen you state this about Lester before, but I think it is probably the most ridiculous move they could make....but they wont because they don't have the money. Tulo has not even resumed baseball activities and is not even a sure thing to start the season. The Red Sox are not even willing to sign Lester and that is where he had his most success, not to mention they actually need starting pitching. Get off the Lester kick, it does not make a shred of sense and the Mets cannot afford him any way. They have a hole to fill at SS, but they have an abundance of starting pitching and limited payroll, so they are one move away from filling out the 2015 team. This isn't fantasy baseball

Thomas Brennan said...

Kevin S
In an injury-free world, not bad idea. Injuries? Very costly

Thomas Brennan said...

Mom just took her Cuddyer Casserole out of the Hot Stove. Mmm.mmm.mmm.

We'll be doing some partying!

Stephen, hearing all your logic, I like the trade because compared to a year ago (pre-Duda break out, Tejada, C Young) a lot of anemic hitting that allows pitchers to pitch around the other hitters, getting them to chase. Now, hitters can think "this line up's gonna produce" and they'll all relax and hit even better.

A few stronger bats lift all boats. I am looking forward to Cuddyer, and if he stays, Dekker will be an excellent 4th OF. I think this team, coupled with shorter fences, boosts scoring by 100-150 runs next year.

Everyone wants Nimmo. He won't be ready until 2016 at the earliest. Guys won't get called up until they can produce almost from Day 1. Absent hitting desperation, no need to rush guys who are kind of ready.

Anonymous said...

Kevin S, build the arms and buy the bats!
Don't pay for a 30 yearold pitcher. Pay for hitters.
Again the team is 1 good shortstop away from being a top contender in the NL for years to come. Pick Ramirez-Castro or Tulo and the Mets will be a team to be a proud fan of?
Personally I think Ramirez is the guy,his contract runs out in 2 years.
I believe Sandy mentioned previously about having contracts run out,every year so your not stuck all in 1 off-season?
in 2 years when Cuddyer and Ramirez contracts would come off the books, Nimmo would be ready!

Stephen Guilbert said...

Which Ramirez? Hanley? He's a free agent and probably not a shortstop anymore.

Other Anon: I get why Lester would be a headscratcher but if he were on the cheaper end, wouldn't you rather him than Niese? Yes, the idea is to stay young and cheap but you absolutely have to have a lefty in the rotation and I, for one, don't trust niese to be healthy or productive enough to be that guy. If you trade Niese for Owings and sign Lester, the team is so much better. That's not fantasy. It makes sense for all parties involved.

Also, I'm tired of hearing "at a loss" crap. I find it impossible to believe that the Mets don't have over 200 million in revenue when everything is considered. That means Jersey sales, venue revenue, TV, everything. That should cover a 150 million dollar payroll and all operating expenses. The Megdals of the world echo this sentiment. It's ridiculous when owners say "We had a $80 million payroll and tickets sold $80 million so we're breaking even". Bullshit. There are more operating costs than payroll and a hell of a lot more revenue than just ticket sales. I want this team to spend and if it means giving up a see second round pick,.$15 million and Niese for Owings and Lester, I want that done.

Robb said...

lets not forget that the mets have an under market value cable deal, because they pay themselves from a network they own (65%) and which provides a better financial footing to stand on then trying to turn the team into a profitable enterprise with that much revolving debt attached. given the market, the mets should be receiving about 130 mm per year in cable fees. we should also remember just how bad a cable deal someone like the braves actually have and how much they still spend.

Thomas Brennan said...

If you win 92 games under Steve's plan and 84 with more status quo, how much more revenue? $40MM? A lot to consider. I still like taking my chances with our own pitchers (Niese replaced by Matz ASAP) and getting. Alexei Ramirez and hoping that gets us to 90 wins in 2015.

Anthony said...

Steve, I agree with almost everything you said except that I think while both Cuddyer and Granderson are sub-par defensive players I think Granderson IS still moving to LF.


Because while Cuddyer will be no better in RF than Granderson, I think the Mets envision that Cuddyer will split time in the OF with MDD or Niewenhuis while also playing some 1B, and both MDD and Niewenhuis would be much better RFs than Grandy.

Jacob Falk said...

Imo there's nothing wrong with cuddyer. The worst it gives us is pop from the 7 spot and serviceable defense (which from the offensive side we would be happy to take from MDD, without the gold glove defense .) with the upside (and much more likely outcome) of at LEAST another Byrd type year. Remember how much your assholes liked Byrd?

Stephen Guilbert said...

Oh Alexi Ramirez. He's not a good option. Forget about him.

Jacob, there's nothing wrong with Cuddyer. I really do like him--just not giving up a pick for him. I don't see him more than a 400 AB guy who is great for a team and a nice complementary player. Love the player, hate the deal. Does that make sense? I like my draft picks and if you pass on much better free agents to preserve those picks, why give it up for a poor defender entering the twilight of his career coming off an injured season? Doesn't make sense.

Mack's Mets © 2012