With the plethora of injuries exposing the New York Yankees this spring, it’s a wonder why they won’t go out and try to help shore up some of their deficiencies through the trade market. Many people have pointed to losing Nick Swisher via free agency as part of the current problem, as his versatility of playing both RF and 1B would’ve at least kept other players from having to move around. Roster flexibility is a necessity in today’s game and Colorado Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer could be the player who could help the Yanks through these early season injuries.
Cuddyer, who turns 34-years-old at the end of March, has been a slightly above average hitter throughout his career with both the Rockies and Minnesota Twins. His value lies in the fact that he presumably can play right field and the corner infield positions and still hit. The Rockies gave him a pretty lucrative contract last season when they inked him for three years/$31.5 million, with the idea that he’d protect sluggers Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Instead, he only played in 101 games and missed the final 44 games due to an oblique injury.
Buster Olney of ESPN recently thought of a scenario for a trade between these two teams in which the Rockies would eat most of the contract in order to facilitate the swap. Cuddyer is still owed $21 million over the next two years, or $10.5 million per season. Remember, Swisher wanted a long-term deal worth around $14 million per year, and the reason the Yankees balked at that is because of the commitment, not so much the money.
Digging into Cuddyer’s numbers shows he’s a career .271/.341/.454 (110 wRC+) hitter and below average fielder. His first base (-3.6 UZR/150) and right field (-3.1 UZR/150) weren’t all that great for the Rockies last season. However, he did provide some pop with 16 home runs and a .229 ISO in 394 plate appearances in 2012, which is something the Yankees would need early in the season with both Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira out of the lineup.
The Rockies would likely want pitching in return, if a deal were to happen. The Yankees might have a few younger hurlers to offer, but with Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda likely gone after this season, they might need them to fill-in. The loser of the David Phelps/Ivan Nova could up for grabs in the trade market after this spring, but would the Yankees really want to give up on a young pitcher for what basically amounts to a bench player after Granderson and Teixeira return?
Who knows what Cuddyer could provide going forward, but he’s only two years removed from a .284/.346/.459 (121 wRC+), 20 home run campaign. He’s also been relatively healthy throughout his career, so injuries aren’t necessarily a concern, but age has a funny way of turning that luck around. If I were GM Brian Cashman, I would proceed with caution when dealing for Cuddyer, on the surface he might look like a good answer, but underneath he’s still an aging player coming off an injury-filled season, and the Yankees already have a few of their own in that category.