Cuddyer’s qualifying offer already affecting his market appeal

The Rockies created a bit of a stir when they extended a surprising qualifying offer to outfielder Michael Cuddyer on Monday. As it turns out, that move has already started to affect the potential market regarding Cuddyer.

Prior to the Rockies extending a qualifying offer to Cuddyer, the Mets had been rumored to have serious interest in pursuing the 35-year-old outfielder. Now that the Mets would need to surrender their top draft pick (No. 15 overall) in order to sign him, Marc Craig of New York Newsday reports that they are no longer interested, even if Cuddyer does ultimately hit the free agent market.

As for the Rockies’ rationale for the surprising qualifying offer, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal attempted to provide some insight to the situation. Rosenthal tweeted that the Rockies hope to create enough outfield flexibility to potentially trade one of their outfielders down the road.

The report claims that Cuddyer is seeking a three-year deal, but the Rockies are trying to force his hand with the lucrative one-year, $15.3 million offer.

Injuries limited Cuddyer to just 49 games last year, though he was extremely productive during that time. One year after winning the National League batting title with a .331 average, Cuddyer stayed on that pace over those 49 games in 2014, hitting .332 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs.

Despite the solid production — when healthy, that is — over the past two years, Cuddyer’s health concerns and age could make him a risky signing for any team. That risk grows even larger when considering that a team would now need to surrender a top draft pick in order to sign him.

All things considered, it might make the most sense for Cuddyer to accept the qualifying offer. It would represent a sizable pay increase from the $10.5 million he’s made each of the past four seasons, though it would do little to provide the three-year job security he’s reportedly seeking.

Choosing to decline the offer, however, could leave Cuddyer in a position similar to that of Stepehn Drew or Kendrys Morales from this past season. Drew and Morales each turned down qualifying offers worth $14.1 million then found little interest on the market, with teams not wanting to give up a draft pick to sign either player.

Drew ultimately re-signed with the Red Sox in May for $10 million, while Morales didn’t land a deal until after the First-Year Player Draft in June. No longer needing to sacrifice a draft pick, the Twins finally signed Morales to deal worth $7.4 million.

— Paul Casella

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