As I mentioned yesterday, Andrew Friedman recently spoke on the Rays offseason wish list. One of the items on the list was first base. Their have been many rumors on what the Rays should do, like trade for Joey Votto or sign Carlos Pena. One player I think should be high on the Rays wish list is Michael Cuddyer.
While I have yet to see this from the national writers, I have no idea why the Rays would not go after Cuddyer. The Rays are a rather quiet team, not giving out much of their plans, so they could be pursuing him and we don’t know it. Cuddyer fits the Rays perfectly. He would most likely be in their price range, even if it is on the upper end. He made $10.5 million last year, but the Rays should be able to stretch to make that work, especially since they need a first baseman so bad.
Cuddyer is also versatile, something the Rays love. He would probably mainly be a first baseman, but he has also spent a lot of time at right field and some time at second. He also plays good defense, making only seven errors over three positions. At first, where he would most likely spend most of his time with the Rays, he made two errors in 352.2 innings for a .995 fielding percentage. That is certainly good enough for the Rays, who want to add offense without giving up defense, according to Friedman.
Cuddyer would also be an upgrade at the plate. He is a right handed bat, which the Rays probably don’t need since two of their best lefties are free agents, but he is an all-around good hitter. Last season he had a great year at the plate, batting .284 with 20 homers. He gives you good average with good power numbers, and could certainly bat four or five in the order to protect Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist. He does bat a little better against lefties, as you would expect, batting .311 against lefties versus .272 against righties, but his power numbers are an even split, with 10 homers against lefties and 10 against righties.
There might only be one better option for the Rays on the free agent market (well, assuming Stu Sternberg didn’t hit the lottery and the Rays can’t afford Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols), and that’s Carlos Pena. Pena would bring a lot less average, but he is the left handed power bat that the Rays needed last year to protect Evan Longoria. The Rays just weren’t the same team last year without Pena behind Longo to get Longo better pitches to hit. If the Rays can’t land Pena again, Cuddyer is the next best option, in my opinion.
In the end I certainly think Michael Cuddyer could be a good fit for the Rays. He would not necessarily bring 30 homers or a .300 average, but he would be a good all around hitter.Cuddyer may be on the outer edge of the Rays price range, but I think they would make it work if they want to make a run at the World Series, which it sounds like they do. Cuddyer is a perfect fit with the Rays team model, as a well-rounded hitter with great defense and a lot of versatility.