The New York Mets have signed outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million deal, they announced on Monday.
Cuddyer had been offered a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Rockies last Monday and was thought to perhaps accept the deal, considering his age, options, and possible draft pick compensation. Obviously, he declined the qualifying offer in favor of the Mets, who will now be losing their 15th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. The Rockies will receive an extra pick in a "compensatory round."
The 35-year-old Cuddyer was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 9th overall pick in the 1997 MLB Draft. He played 11 seasons with the Twins, producing solid numbers. He was selected to the 2011 All-Star Game, the first of his career coming at age 32.
The Rockies signed Cuddyer in December 2011 to a three-year, $31.5 million contract. He won the 2012 National League batting title and was selected to his second career All-Star Game. This past year, Cuddyer hit .332/.376/.579 (.955 OPS) with 10 home runs and 31 runs batted in in 205 plate appearances. He missed 61 games this season with a broken left shoulder, while also missing time on multiple occasions with a hamstring issue on both sides.
The Mets deal with Cuddyer makes a ton of sense for the team. Cuddyer, traditionally a right fielder, will be able to produce in New York until top prospect Michael Conforto comes to the major leagues, which should be either near or following the end of Cuddyer's deal. Mets right fielders hit for a good OPS, ranking 14th in the majors, but their left fielders hit for a .615 OPS, ranking second-worst.
Cuddyer's deal makes sense for the Mets, and as they inch closer to contention as their prospects make their way through the minors, they were willing to sacrifice a draft pick in order to sign an interesting free agent, one that will definitely help the clubhouse chemistry and still can produce when he is on the field. Leaving the high altitude in Denver may help improve Cuddyer's health, but the Mets shouldn't expect a full 600 plate appearances from him in 2015.