Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer has declined the team’s qualifying offer and signed a contract to play for the New York Mets.
In a move that has, for lack of a better word, shocked the baseball world, the New York Mets have signed outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million deal, the team announced this afternoon.
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The move throws a giant curveball into a lot of moves the Rockies front office was expected to make this off-season, including potentially trading outfielder Carlos Gonzalez or first baseman Justin Morneau. The Rockies extended a qualifying offer to Cuddyer late last week and it was widely anticipated that Cuddyer would accept the offer, getting him a $15.3 million salary to be a power utility man next season in Denver.
But now the Rockies are not only free of that contract, they gain a draft pick in the process. The qualifying offer process is now in its third year under the new CBA and it states the Mets will forfeit their top draft pick (15th overall) while the Rockies will gain a first round pick at the end of the first round in the compensatory selections.
The move is surprising for a few reasons. The first is that the rumor was the Mets had sworn off Cuddyer after the offer was extended (for obvious reasons). Secondly, for the Mets to sacrifice their top draft pick for a 36-year-old outfielder coming off his most injury plagued season in recent memory is a…well it’s not a move they write books about, that’s for sure.
Finally, it surprises everyone who follows and analyzes the Rockies because most everyone had conceded that Cuddyer would be a Rockie next year and either CarGo or Morneau would not be.
Now that problem is gone, the Rockies won’t have a $15 million utility outfielder on the bench, and they somehow turned nothing into something. The Rockies front office suddenly looks, for the first time since trading Matt Holliday for Carlos Gonzalez and Huston Street, like they know what they’re doing.
For whatever reason the Mets did it, the Rockies now have a little more wiggle room both with the players currently on the roster and the ones they would like to spend money on. They haven’t forced their hand in signing Cuddyer, they won’t be forced to move an outfielder, and they haven’t invested $15 million in potential free agent salary into an aging hitter with injury issues.
It’s almost like, and this might sound crazy, the Rockies front office has a plan.