Mets Potential Trade Target: Michael Cuddyer

By Matt Musico

As Sandy Alderson and the Mets continue to search for right-handed hitting outfielders, we saw another come off the board yesterday, as the Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with free agent Matt Diaz, including an invite to Big League spring training. A couple days ago, I mentioned New York should pursue Diaz instead of Scott Hairston to be their fourth outfielder, but alas, here we are, watching the limited outfield options continue to dwindle. The Rockies have received a lot of calls regarding Dexter Fowler (which they are unwilling to move, reportedly), but is there a possibility Michael Cuddyer could be had?

He did have an injury shortened season in the first of a three-year/$31.5 million contract he signed in Colorado, but he still hit more home runs (16 HR in 101 games played) than any of the current options in the outfield for the Mets (Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Mike Baxter). After earning his first All-Star selection in his last season with the Minnesota Twins (.284/.346/.459, 20 HR, 70 RBI in 2011) he still put together a respectable line of .260/.317/.489 with those 16 homers and 58 RBI in 2012. Despite most recently hitting in the thin air of Denver, Cuddyer owned a .272/.343/.451 line during his 11-year tenure in Minnesota.

July 29, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies first baseman Michael Cuddyer (3) hits a single during the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Cuddyer could give the Mets a legitimate power threat in right field to provide protection for the big boppers in the New York’s lineup, such as Ike Davis and David Wright. He’s not exactly the best defender out there (.977 fielding percentage in ’12), but it can’t be any worse than what people think about Jason Kubel‘s defense, and since Cuddyer is right-handed, he automatically has an edge in my book. Trading for a soon-to-be 34-year-old outfielder with two years and approximately $20 million left on his contract doesn’t exactly sound like a Sandy Alderson-type move, but it may be worth consideration if he’s serious about not “punting” 2013 and being competitive.

Offense is the one part of Colorado’s game that doesn’t need help, as they were tied for first in the MLB for highest team batting average and had the seventh-most runs scored. It’s their pitching that needs some assistance, with their 5.22 team ERA the worst in baseball. New York has a number of young arms, some that are MLB ready, others on the cusp. Jeremy Hefner, Jenrry Mejia, and Collin McHugh are just a couple that come to mind. After enduring a 64-98 campaign last season, they should be in rebuilding mode, and since Cuddyer isn’t high on the Rockies’ current depth chart, it could be worth a short to try and acquire him from Colorado for a pitcher or two with some upside.

Would you be happy if the Mets acquired Michael Cuddyer?