Michael Cuddyer, much like the signing of Curtis Granderson last season, won't make the Mets better by itself. But what these signings have done is added the presence of useful, helpful veterans that know how to succeed and win on the Major League level to a team that's generally comprised of younger players still figuring it out.
The Met outfield, particularly Left Field, was a point of contention throughout the 2014 season. Chris Young didn't work. Neither did anyone else they tried out there, whether it was Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker, Andrew Brown, Josh Satin, Eric Young Jr., or the rest of a forgettable runaway mob of guys that weren't ever going to be an every day solution. Young was a strikeout waiting to happen and didn't finish the season. den Dekker struggled to bat his weight. Eric Young was exposed and returned to the super sub role he was better suited for. Satin, Brown, and other such memorables bounced between the minors and majors all season without making much impact. Thus a better answer was needed.
Michael Cuddyer, at age 35, isn't a long-term solution for the Mets, but he comes at a reasonable price, 2 years, $21 million, for a guy that's coming off some fine seasons with the Colorados after many years playing for the Twins during an era in which they enjoyed more than their share of success. An All Star in 2011 and again in 2013, Cuddyer's accomplishments have long been in the spirit of the team; more about the whole than the sum of the parts. The numbers are solid, but not eye-popping, the man not flashy, just consistent.
This is sort of what the Mets need. While Cuddyer isn't going to hit 35 Home Runs, there's nobody readily available to the Mets that's going to, for one. For two, unlike the pu-pu platter the Mets kept throwing out in Left Field last season, Cuddyer will actually play every day and more than likely will not hit .200 and strike out a third of the time. Though Cuddyer was limited to 49 games last season due to injury, his career track has generally been pretty healthy, and in his 49 games, he hit .332 with 10 Home Runs and 31 RBI—numbers that were markedly better than anyone the Mets were able to toss out in Left Field any of the last 3 years.
The argument on the other side of this of course, is everything I just stated. Cuddyer is 35, which is old as ballplayers tend to go, and he was injured for a majority of the last season, which isn't a good sign, and also that the Mets just haven't had a great deal of luck with Free Agent Left Fielders in recent memory. Some of us are still scarred from their last dalliance with someone of this particular ilk. Then, there's the whole draft pick issue. Cuddyer received a qualifying offer from the Colorados before bolting town, which meant that whoever signed him and a bah blah blah. The Mets, with their middling finish from last season, had the #15 pick in the draft which now goes to the Colorados. For a system that seems so predicated on prospects and developing talent, why give that up? Alderson wouldn't budge on this for someone like Michael Bourn.
And so here's why it makes sense now, Charleston:
By this point, the Mets and their fans are sick of rebuilding and waiting for prospects to pay off. All the prospects they have are just about to hit the scene in the Majors, if they haven't already. The farm system has been rebuilt and there's even more prospects on the horizon. There's enough prospects here already, and the Mets don't need one more, especially if the idea of a potential prospect is going to prevent the team from making a move that will help to bring in a player that's going to help the team Win. Now. Not that it hasn't already been discussed, but 2015 is no longer about waiting to see what the hell we have here, it's time to start filling in the gaps at the Major League level to make this into a complete, cohesive roster that will contend. Whoever the #15 draft pick in June 2015 ends up being, that guy isn't going to help the Mets in 2015. Michael Cuddyer is going to help the Mets. And that's why now, it makes sense to sacrifice the pick and get the player. And maybe do it again if the right player presents himself.