Unlike the NFL, MLB free agency is a slow crawl, with the premium guys usually holding out into the winter before signing ridiculously huge (and fully guaranteed) deals.
In the meantime, teams start to plug holes where they can. Case in point — the Phillies signed slugger Jim Thome to at least upgrade the bench with some lefty power, with the possibility that he sees time at first while Ryan Howard recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Since Thome hasn’t played the field in years and would be a major liability defensively, the Phillies would be smart to consider other options.
And apparently they are.
The latest hot stove rumor has the Phillies aggressively pursuing free agent Michael Cuddyer, who has spent his entire 11-year career to-date with the Minnesota Twins. This per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury.
Cuddyer, 32, can play first base as well as the outfield, providing the Phillies with valuable versatility. Howard’s injury leaves first base a question mark, and the assumed departure of free agent Raul Ibanez means left field needs to be addressed as well.
There is a possibility the Phils go with John Mayberry Jr full time out there, possibly sharing time with a so-far disappointing Domonic Brown. Adding Cuddyer would allow Mayberry to remain in the fourth-outfielder role he’s likely more suited for as well as allowing Brown to be worked in slowly.
Cuddyer would basically give the Phils Ibanez-level production but from the right side of the plate. In 2011, Cuddyer hit 20 homers with 70 RBIs, 37 doubles, with an average of .271 and an OBP of .336 and SLG of .459 for an OPS of .805. Over the past three seasons, he has averaged 22 home runs and 82 RBIs.
His best year power-wise was in 2009, when he hit 32 long balls. For his career, Cuddyer has a line of .272/.343/.451/.794, with 141 home runs, 580 RBIs, and 239 doubles.
It’s all going to come down to money, with some talk out there that Cuddyer wants $12 million-plus per year, which is steep, especially for a team already chock full of aging stars at bloated salaries. Still, the Phillies are in win-now mode and their window of opportunity won’t last forever. Signing Cuddyer makes sense.