Left Fielder Michael Cuddyer is retiring, per multiple reports.
This is breaking news out of Queens—a very surprising move by the 36 year old veteran. The news accidentally leaked on the Mets transaction page before Cuddyer and the team officially announced it. Cuddyer was set to make $12.5 million off the bench for the Mets in 2016—a sharp increase from the $8.5 million he earned in his first season with New York.
This decision comes after a disappointing first year with the Mets in which he batted .259 with 10 home runs over 379 at bats.
Cuddyer, praised for his clubhouse veteran presence, could be looking for a coaching role with the Mets organization this upcoming season. With Bob Geren gone off to Los Angeles, it could be a possibility that Cuddyer seeks out the bench coaching job or elsewhere in the Major League Level.
A first-round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in 1997 (9th overall), Cuddyer is a career .277 hitter and was only three home runs shy of 200. The two-time All-Star spent parts of eleven seasons in Minnesota, three with the Colorado Rockies for whom he was the National League Batting Champion in 2013, followed by a brief one-year stint in New York.
The Mets signing Cuddyer was a mistake to begin with. He, along with John Mayberry Jr., blocked highly touted prospects such as Matt den Dekker, Michael Conforto, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis from receiving major-league time. His back-loaded 2 year, $21 million contract didn’t help matters either—swallowing a large portion of a small-market team’s money. It was going to cost the Mets $12.5 million this year to have a rusted out veteran come off the bench, which genuinely hurt the Mets chances of making a big splash in the vast outfield market. That being said, I’m going to miss the guy. I do think he is a terrific clubhouse guy—all of his teammates adore him. I really hope he can land a job within the Mets coaching staff this upcoming year. I’m not exactly sure what his motive for retiring is—he was about to cash in a huge contract of doing nothing. It could’ve been for his body, his awareness of being outmatched, or even his realization that this is what is best for the team.
All-in-all, a benefitting decision for the Mets. This will give Sandy Alderson and the rest of the Mets front office the payroll flexibility that is necessary in order to go out and get that impact bat, whether it be Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, or someone via trade—such as George Springer.