Where does Cuddyer rank vs. other potential free agents?
The recent news that the Phillies approached the Twins about trading Michael Cuddyer made me wonder...where does Cuddyer rank with the upcoming free agent class of outfielders?
A: Right near the top.
I'm guessing the top guy is going to be Carlos Beltran. His injury history and age (34 years old) likely will mean clubs won't go Werth-crazy about him, but he he's a premier guy who seems to have bounced back.
But Cuddyer is currently in the next group, along with Jason Kubel. I'd add Cody Ross to that group too, and I find them mostly interchangable. A half-step below those guys but similar in age are Josh Willingham, Jonny Gomes and Ryan Ludwick. One could add Juan Rivera too.
JD Drew kind of belong in his own group. He's older than those guys (35) and not doing much this year, but I would think he would draw as much interest as Cuddy, Kubel and Ross.
Then we get to the older guys. Tops might be Johnny Damon, just because he can still play in the outfield. I'm not sure I can say the same thing about Bobby Abreu and Vladamir Guerrero, but they can still hit. I don't think any American League team will touch Pat Burrell with a 10-foot pole, but he'll be available. Raul Ibanez might be re-animated. I suspect Hideki Matsui will be back in Japan soon.
There are some intriguing bounceback guys, too. Carlos Guillen hasn't played yet this year. Magglio Ordonez essentially hasn't either. David DeJesus shouldn't be overlooked.
Still, that means today Cuddy finds himself in the top five of free agent MLB outfielders, and is blessed with being fairly young. That feels to me like a contract that is at least 3 years long, and approaching $9-$10M/year. And if the Twins balk at that price for him and Kubel, they'll be harder than we think to replace.