Is Michael Cuddyer an Option for Right Field?


Ahhh, free agency.  The time period for all teams to open their wallets and spend money on players in hopes they provide an upgrade to their team.  The Red Sox are always a busy team in the free agent market and while lately it’s been a bit of a bust with some of the signings, this year remains a question mark.

Many names have been floating around and one that did have some potential was Michael Cuddyer.   Well it doesn’t appear he’s getting much attention lately with all the talk about either Grady Sizemore or Carlos Beltran potentially coming to Boston.  All three are free agents and all three have, at one time lately been rumored to be on the Red Sox radar. 

I’ve looked at both Beltran and Sizemore in depth and whether or not they would be a reasonable free agent for Ben Cherington to pursue.  While I am just one lowly Red Sox fan who’s opinion doesn’t matter, I say pass on them both.

This leaves Michael Cuddyer’s name to be explored a little more. So let’s do just that and look at Mr. Cuddyer and decide if he would be a potential target in the free agent market.

Cuddyer is 32 years of age, smack dab in the middle of Sizemore (29) and Beltran (34).  While his age is a bit of a concern, that thought is quickly dismantled when you look at his track record of games played.  Since 2006, only once did Cuddyer fail to play in more than 100 games; 2008 he played in 71 games due to multiple hand injuries and a broken foot.

Aside from the ’08 campaign, Cuddyer has averaged nearly 150 games per season, something that the right field position with the Red Sox is unfamiliar with.  Cuddyer is naturely a right fielder so the only conversion needed would be zip codes and area codes.

His numbers at the plate arent’ the won’t knock you over and slap me silly type.  His career batting average is .272, with his career best coming last year at .284.  He’s only hit the 30 home run plateau once and that was back in 2009.  Last season he did manage to hit 20 long balls, still pretty decent.  He averages around 80 RBI per season, with his best being 109 way back in 2006.  His career OBP is .343, SLG .451 and OPS .794.  Again, you shouldn’t be picking yourself up off the floor at this point because of his numbers.  He doesn’t provide the punch that either Sizemore or Beltran do, but he does bring a few other things to the table.

Something that doesn’t jump off the stats page is his consistency.  He’s consistently hit around .275 and his on-base percentage is consistently around .340.  He does strike out a fair amount, but he is consistently reliable to be able to write his name on the lineup card.

Another characteristic of Cuddyer is his grittyness.  He’s a lunch bucket type of player, one that would’ve fit in well with the ’04 team.  Remember those guys?  That whole team had character.  This latest rendition of the Red Sox had a little bit, but not enough to overcome some other huge roadblocks.  Cuddyer would bring that gritty, hard nosed, leave everything on the field, play on the edge style.  That is something this team needs.

As mentioned in previous posts, there is the current log jam in right field with both Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick deemed the front runners to battle it out for the job.  But what’s wrong with bringing in Cuddyer on a 3-year deal with an option to have as your right fielder for next season.  He’ll likely give you 140 games, but you could argue that 120 would suffice and allow Kalish to get some adequate playing time in. 

Wasn’t it Cherington himself who said they need to re-stock the farm system and develop within the organization?  Rather than go out and spend money foolishly on high priced, over rated free agents? (I think this is where Beltran and Sizemore would fall into).  So have Cuddyer warm the spot for Kalish and when the youngster proves he’s ready to take the fulltime role you still have other options.  This would allow Josh Reddick to be traded for some pitching help, most likely a bullpen arm.

Consider Cuddyer’s last contract that was worth an average of $8 million and suddenly his asking price could be within range for the Red Sox; as opposed to what Beltran will likely be seeking.

A bonus with Cuddyer is his versatility.  During his 11 seasons in Minnesota, the 2011 all-star has played third base, first base, second base, all over the outfield and even pitched in one game.  Okay, the majority was in the outfield, but he has played almost 400 games between first and third.  So a utility player in a year or two is not out of the question.

His fielding percentage in right field is a shining .985,  having made only 19 errors in 11 seasons.  This may help ease some doubters who feel Cuddyer would be a defensive threat in right.

One other interesting tidbit on Cuddyer is that he’s played in Minnesota for over a decade.  So it’s evident he can handle the cold weather that has become the April norm in Boston.  This is a bonus as it appears not all of the Red Sox outfielders are capable of battling through the frigid temperatures.

The days of signing the all-star names to high prolific contracts are best left behind us.  Cherington brings a new era to Boston and with it should be smarter decisions in the free agent market.  He can earn his stripes by signing Michael Cuddyer.

For all the latest news and analysis from BoSox Injection, follow us on TwitterFacebook, or with our RSS feed.