Sunday, November 8, 2009

Opting for Cuddyer

Yes, it was a good thing I got my position out in the open when I did, because by the next morning, Bill Smith had pulled the trigger on Michael Cuddyer's $10.5 million option for 2011. Here is the passage in my increasingly obsolete Offseason Blueprint post explaining why I thought the Twins should decline:

This kinda sucks, because Cuddyer's been a good player for a long time and is coming off not only one of his best seasons, but one in which he helped carry the team into the postseason. It's unfortunate that his contract is structured in such a way that this decision has to be made within 5 days of the end of the 2009 World Series. If we knew how much Mauer was going to cost in 2011, I might feel differently. But without any cost certainty there, the sensible thing is to decline Cuddyer's $10.5M option.

Hopefully, he has another great season and, if things look favorable, we can offer him a contract for 2011 anyway. Certainly, we'll offer arbitration at the end of next year, making ourselves eligible for compensation draft picks should he sign elsewhere. And realistically, with his peak years behind him by then, we can probably expect about as much production from David Winfree or Rene Tosoni or some other prospect instead.

Those arguments didn't dissuade Mr. Smith. I want to be clear that Cuddyer absolutely earned this - he's been a terrific presence off the field for years, even when he's struggled on it. Now that we've seen what he can do when he's healthy, I don't think it's unreasonable to elevate the expectations for what he'll produce in the near future somewhat. A lot of teams pay a lot more than $10.5 M for a lot less than what Cuddyer did last year.

Still, they'd better have saved plenty of money for Mauer...

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