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Could He Be A Cub: Michael Cuddyer

Written by , Posted in General

So the Cubs got their man in Theo Epstein. The new GM’s long list of tasks will include addressing the dilemma at 1B, 3B, and possibly RF. Free agent Michael Cuddyer could be a fit for one of those spots.

The 32-year-old Cuddyer has been a fan favorite in Minnesota. In 11 seasons he’s put together a line of .272/.343/.451 with 141 home runs in 4,072 at bats (which is about a homer every 29 at bats). His best season at the plate was probably 2009, when he slugged 32 bombs, easily a career high. His 2006 campaign was solid as well, including a .362 OBP.

“Versatile” is a word frequently used to describe Cuddyer. Since breaking into the majors at age 22, he’s played 690 games in the OF, 210 games at 1B, 171 games at 3B, and 79 games at 2B. I know what some of you are thinking, but forget it. He’s not a 2B.

Cuddyer made $10 million in 2011, so he’s not in the “superstar” salary class. However, when the Pujols-Fielder dust settles, he may get a healthy emergency offer from a desperate GM who missed out on the big two.

How many years will he command on the free agent market? I’m not psychic, but I’d be willing to bet three or four. Would the Cubs be interested at say three years, $33 million? If so, do they settle on one position or move him around the diamond?

Cuddyer is a useful player, but is he a difference-maker in the lineup? My prediction is that Theo will pass on Mr. Cuddyer’s services and let another team overpay for him.

A surprise contender could be the Phillies. In case you missed it, Ryan Howard suffered an Achilles tendon injury on Friday.  Would the Phillies bring in Cuddyer to play 1B in Howard’s absence? If so, where does he play once Howard returns? Does Cuddyer lower his contract expectations to possibly win a title in Philly?

Under any scenario, Cuddyer looks like an unlikely fit in Chicago.

  • Norm

    I agree Buddy, let him go elsewhere.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Agreed on Cuddyer. I think as a 1-year stopgap, he’d be solid…but with a team going nowhere, it wouldn’t really make sense.

  • Noah

    Agree on Cuddyer. Not a great fit for the Cubs right now. As you mentioned, he’d be a better fit for the Phillies, but to expand on the thoughts in your post: after Howard came back he could move to third. The Phillies would like a bigger bat in the lineup at third, plus Polanco has had a lot of problems staying healthy the past year or two.

  • mrbaseball2usa

    I’d take him for what you listed (3 yrs / $33MM), but I don’t think he’ll come that cheaply. I’d like to see a higher OBP from him (and everyone else in our damn lineup for that matter).

  • We aren’t short on flexibility. Baker, DeWitt, LaHair, Colvin, etc.

  • Dusty Baylor

    True, but we are short on anyone who has flexibility….and is any good.

  • chet

    I know Cuddyer is a fan favorite but is he that much of an upgrade over Baker?

    Baker’s line over 7 years .270/.322/.436

    Granted, Baker doesn’t have the power, 33 HR’s, but it’s a 7 million /year difference at least, coupled with the fact that we don’t need to lock him up for long term. Baker is also a tad younger I believe.

    So I don’t like a multi-year deal for Cuddyer. 1 year stop gap maybe.

  • chet

    Baker made 1.2 mill this year, so a major difference in money.

  • BLPCB

    I hope he stays with the Twins so he can continue to make life hell for the White Sox.
    I like him, but I don’t see him as a useful part on this team. If we were contenders, I would be all over it. He’s one of those guys who can be a final piece to a playoff team.

  • Jedi

    Cuddyer can also take the field against righties (Baker can’t). That said, I tend to agree…if they really feel the need to sign someone, I’d rather have them explore a guy like Grady Sizemore. Move him to first base where he won’t face injury on a daily basis and maybe you could find a decent middle of the order bat at a moderate price.

  • Jedi

    By the way, I know that a guy like Sizemore is a terrible option – that’s how bleak I think the free agent picture is for the Cubs (for the most part).

  • Buddy

    Series disclaimer…We’re not saying the Cubs should or should not sign the players we’re profiling in this offseason “Could He Be A Cub” series. These are merely possibilities that hopefully generate some discussion. If you’re asking for my personal opinion, I don’t want the Cubs to sign Cuddyer. He doesn’t hit enough for a corner IF or a corner OF, and he can’t play 2B anymore (and maybe never could). I’ll pass on Sizemore too, only because of all the injuries. Very sad to see this version of Grady. The healthy version was going to be great.

  • Doc Raker

    Mark me down as a no on Cuddyer at the price discussed.

  • Allan Bendert

    Cuddyer could play third for the Phillies after Polanco retires in a year or two. Cuddyer to the Phils makes a lot of sense.

  • Buddy

    I wonder what Cuddyer’s 3B defense would look like these days. I haven’t watched him play there in some time. Anybody have any insight?