Cuddyer Leaves a Void Behind
Once Michael Cuddyer‘s retirement was confirmed, seemingly everyone sought out the best way to spend his $12.5 million forfeited salary. The prevailing thought was that the Mets should re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. I do admit for a time being the Mets could’ve better spent their money.
These are interesting and worthwhile discussions, but they also neglect the void Cuddyer leaves behind. I know he was slated to make a lot of money. Money, frankly, that could be better spent elsewhere. Put that aside for a second. That money was already budgeted. Instead, let’s focus on the role Cuddyer was going to play:
- Veteran presence in the clubhouse;
- Solid pinch hitter; and
- Right handed bat against tough lefties.
At a minimum, you knew you could slate him in to give Lucas Duda an occasional day off while having a credible bat and glove at first base. He could take some at bats from Curtis Granderson against lefties. Remember, Granderson has definitive platoon splits, and he will be 35 years old next year. He can also ease the transition of Michael Conforto into his role as an everyday player.
Now, many people will naturally call for Juan Uribe to take his place. It seems like a fit. Uribe was a great addition to the clubhouse, and can spell David Wright at third on occasion. Last year, Uribe was uncomfortable playing first, but he may have more aptitude after having an offseason to prepare for the role. He will also cost much less than $12.5 million.
However, Uribe is not the player Cuddyer is or was. Cuddyer is a career .277/.344/.461 hitter. Last year, Cuddyer hit .259/.309/.391. As a pinch hitter, Cuddyer hits .355/.431/.548. Conversely, Uribe is a career .256/.303/.421 hitter. Last year, he hit .219/.301/.430 with the Mets and .253/.320/.417 overall. As a pinch hitter, Uribe has hit .281/.363/.461.
For the money, sure, you’d probably rather have Uribe. However, that first implies the Mets will reallocate the money (not a given). Second, it ignores the fact that Cuddyer also plays the outfield, which Uribe doesn’t. Lastly, Uribe would be redundant as he would just be signing on to play Wilmer Flores‘ role.
No, to fully replace Cuddyer the Mets need a right handed 1B/OF who can serve as a mentor to the players on the team. Looking at the free agent market that player doesn’t exist. Therefore, finding a replacement for Cuddyer will be next to impossible. The Mets are not a better team after his retirement.
I suppose the biggest testament to the type of player and Cuddyer is is noting that the 2016 Mets are worse off for his retirement.