Cuddyer deal improves Indians draft standing
I have to start out this article by eating a significant amount of crow. On the same day I write in an article that is was foolish for the Rockies to offer the qualifying offer to Michael Cuddyer and that no team would ever sign a 35-year coming off major injury, well, a team stepped up and did exactly that. That team was the Mets, agreeing to a two-year $21 million deal with him.
As it turns out, not only was I dead wrong about Cuddyer, but he was the first player to sign a new contract. So in the end I give major credit to the Rockies who either had inside information or just really did their homework that he would sign quickly with someone this offseason. As a result of Cuddyer signing with the Mets, the Rockies now get a free first round pick as compensation.
There is a value in the qualifying offer and major value to bonus picks, not just for the pick but also the pool money. In the end, when in doubt the right choice seems to be to offer as in the worst case it is a one year deal.
I imagine the Mets struck quickly because they were set on Cuddyer and were afraid he would accept the qualifying offer. It’s a hedge bet against the fact that if he had been terrible this year his career was likely over, so it’s less now for more overall. This is the second year in a row that the Mets gave up a pick to sign a questionable free agent.
Last year they paid a lot for Curtis Granderson to watch him be the very definition of average. Its fine to sign talent but to lose a first and a second round pick over the last two years to overpay for mediocre talent makes little sense for a front office which has typically been very intelligent. This is especially the case where the one glaring need is not in the outfield but at shortstop.
Cuddyer will take over in right field for the Mets. Granderson will shift to left field, and I am sure they will keep Juan Lagares in center where he just won a Gold Glove. Cuddyer could also play first base which will help if Lucas Duda continues to struggle against left-handed pitchers.
A big thing to remember with this signing is that Cuddyer is a childhood friend of David Wright and the two have remained very close throughout their years in the majors. I am sure this figured in to some degree on Cuddyer taking less money and the Mets decision to add him. It was probably to some degree factored into the Rockies’ decision to extend the qualifying offer to him.
So what does this have to do with the Indians?
Well, there are a few things, the biggest being that the Mets were slotted to pick at No. 15 overall and now they are not as that pick is forfeited. As a result, the Indians move up a spot from No. 19 to No. 18.
Last year Brandon Finnegan went No. 17 to the Royals and the Nationals had the No. 18 pick and got Erick Fedde who was one of the top arms in the draft. Also, while the 2015 Draft does not appear as deep as this year, just being even one pick higher is a very good thing. We are still early in the free agent period, so I would not be surprised if the Indians end up picking higher than No. 18 next year as this is just the beginning of the forfeiture of first round picks to sign “qualified” free agents. When all is said and done, the Indians could have the No. 15 or No. 16 pick in the draft by doing nothing.
The loss of Cuddyer might also change the Rockies perspective as a possible trading partner now that there is not quite the log jam in the outfield. They still have a lot of potential assets to trade and have some depth in the outfield, but those points I raised in the article yesterday don’t necessarily work as much today as they did before the Mets signed Cuddyer. Such is the life during the Hot Stove season as things are always fluid and ideas can quickly be extinguished or catch fire.
Be sure to continue to check back here as any time the Indians draft position changes I will have an update on it. As always, this site is and will continue to be the number one site for Indians draft coverage.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
One spot could be important right then, or in future trade potential......like the one Ron mentions that got the Royals Cain and Esobar for Greinke. Greinke is a really fine pitcher, but even a really fine pitcher .....or even two of them.....can only take a team so far. As the Dodgers learned this year.