Could the Orioles be interested in former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer? O's Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette isn't going to tip his hand, but the Orioles' name keeps popping up in the rumor mill.
Baltimore will be a tough sell for Cuddyer. You have to assume the 32-year-old wants to win a ring before he retires. That's not likely to happen in Charm City anytime in the near future. Plus, playing in the American League East isn't attractive to players who would be heading to a bottom-dwelling team. The whole you-have-to-beat-the-best-to-be-the-best mantra doesn't fly in that scenario.
It appears the Rockies or the Twins are the front-runners for Cuddyer right now. However, some media outlets are speculating the O's could make an aggressive offer. Some estimate it would have to be in the three-year, $30 million range to catch the All Star's attention
If Duquette can pull a sneaky coup for Cuddyer similar to the under-the-radar maneuver the Angels pulled to get Albert Puljos, it would be a huge get for the Birds. Cuddyer is a solid right handed bat (.284, 20 homers, 70 RBIs in 2011) that can add some pop to the lineup, and he can play in the outfield or either of the corner infield positions. Two of the O's biggest holes right now are in left field and at third base. Cuddyer would be an instant fix.
Cuddyer, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis would make up a solid outfield.
More importantly, Cuddyer would be that influential veteran presence in the clubhouse the O's have so desperately needed. In Minnesota, Cuddyer was a fan favorite and was known as a great clubhouse guy. He's been on Twins teams that have gone to the playoffs, so he'll set the bar high for himself and his teammates. It will only benefit the club to have a player around who knows what's it's like to play in October.
Reports are the Twins originally offered Cuddyer a three-year, $24 million deal. Thursday, the club agreed to sign Josh Willingham to a $21 million deal. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman is reporting there might not be enough room in the Twins' budget for Cuddyer anymore.
Many are surprised it's taken Cuddyer this long to sign somewhere. My assumption, based on all the rumors, is that he has a tough decision. Does he take more money and go somewhere like Baltimore or Seattle, where winning may be elusive? Does he give the Twins the hometown discount and stay in Minnesota where he's played his entire 11-season career? Or does he go somewhere like Colorado, where the money will be competitive and he plays in a division that is winnable in the foreseeable future?
We'll know the answers to those questions very soon. My hope is that at the very least, the O's made an offer.