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Coleman: In Signing Cuddyer, Mets Make Solid Move For All The Right Reasons

By Ed Coleman
» More Columns

You can file this one under the "I didn't see this one coming" category.

Michael Cuddyer was certainly a good possibility to become a Met, that is until Colorado extended -- surprising to many -- a qualifying offer. When the Rockies did, it was highly expected that Cuddyer would accept it, and he confirmed that suspicion on Tuesday when he spoke with the media. And then the Mets were supposed to be out of it because of the compensation attached: the 15th overall draft pick in 2015.

But Cuddyer is now a member of the Mets -- and for a lot of the right reasons, too. The 35-year-old (he'll turn 36 in March) signed a two-year deal for a reasonable $21 million ($8.5 in 2015, $12.5 in 2016), at which time prospects like Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto might be ready to arrive. Another right reason is that he's a right-handed hitter to balance the Mets' lineup. Cuddyer is a blue-collar, day-to-day grinder who's an incredibly positive influence in the clubhouse. And if the Mets can find their way to the postseason -- and that's their intention -- the veteran outfielder is a .338 career hitter in 22 playoff games.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke about what was attractive about Cuddyer to make him part of the solution for this franchise.

Alderson on Cuddyer

Cuddyer is a Virginia native who has played for Minnesota and Colorado, and besides being close friends with Mets captain David Wright, had a couple of other reasons to like New York.

Cuddyer On Signing With Mets

In an effort to rebuild a depleted farm system, the Mets have not been willing to lose their high draft picks recently. So Alderson was asked about surrendering the No. 15 pick for Cuddyer now.

Alderson On Giving Up Pick

Makes total sense. Alderson went on to discuss the process of making Cuddyer the top priority for the Mets.

Alderson On Targeting Cuddyer

The qualifying offer ($15.3 million) deadline was 5 p.m. Monday. Thus, Cuddyer gets less per year but more in total from the Mets, moves closer to home, and -- as both sides hope -- closer to a winner and the postseason.

So is Cuddyer the missing piece? Well, don't expect him to claim that distinction.

Cuddyer, The Missing Piece?

Cuddyer spent 11 seasons with the Twins before moving to Mile-High Colorado the last three years. Everyone looks at Coors Field splits and -- yes -- Cuddyer holds up very well. His numbers overall with the Rockies: a .307 batting average with an .886 OPS. His best year was 2013, a .331 BA with 20 HR and a .919 OPS. His splits that year: .356 BA with a .997 OPS at Coors, .311 BA with an .852 OPS on the road. Cuddyer's first year in Colorado, he batted .268 with an .858 OPS at home, and .250 with a .744 OPS away. Last year, in which he only played 49 games, he still hit .332 with 10 HR and a .955 OPS overall. Over the last three seasons away from Coors Field, he batted .286 with 20 HR. So how does the newest Met translate his offense from Coors to Citi Field?

Cuddyer On Mets' Ballpark

Sensible approach, and hopefully a sensible outcome in Queens.

Simply put, the free-agent pickings are not great this offseason. So that means solving problems via trades, always tricky. The Mets are supposedly looking for a shortstop. New Arizona GM Dave Stewart said if the Diamondbacks move either of their guys -- Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings -- it would have to be for "controllable young pitching," and added that he had no interest in Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon. And that leaves who? The young studs that every team is asking for when the Mets propose any trade. And therein lies the inherent fear of figuring out who's better -- is it Matt Harvey (coming off Tommy John surgery) or Zack Wheeler or Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz or....

There are no simple solutions. No easy answers. And no, you can never have enough pitching. Just look at Madison Bumgarner. The Giants had a spotty at best, minimal at worst, offense. Yet San Francisco is the World Series Champion for the third time in five years. As Alderson relates, it's not money -- protecting the pitching studs is the issue.

Alderson On Young Hurlers

As well they should be.

Good, solid move for the Mets. Keep pushing forward toward those meaningful games in September (for you, not your opponent) and the postseason.

C U soon
Eddie C.

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