After spending parts of 15 seasons in the MLB with the Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins and New York Mets, 36-year-old Michael Cuddyer is retiring from professional baseball. The news itself broke in a really weird way, thanks to MLB.com listing Cuddyer as retired on the transaction page without any warning. Once social media picked up on this mistake, the post was deleted but at that point everyone was left curious as to why it happened.
Almost immediately, the New York Mets were looked at for an explanation, but according to Marc Craig of Newsday Sports they had no comment. Then just a few moments later, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com confirmed that Cuddyer was retiring with another year left on his current contract. He was scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2016.
This news in all reality makes a lot of sense when looking back at the nagging injuries he dealt with last season. There were multiple times in 2015 where it seemed Cuddyer just wasn’t comfortable on the field. As a guy who is known for just loving the game of baseball and always having a smile on his face, it was obvious he wasn’t himself. A tough season full of struggles and inconsistency in the Big Apple can beat up any veteran in a hurry, and it seems like Cuddyer is the latest victim. But in all seriousness, didn’t everyone see this coming after he signed his two-year $21 million dollar deal last offseason?
In 117 games in 2015, the two-time All-Star hit a weak .259 with 10 jacks and a .309 OBP. On top of the struggling offense, Cuddyer also wasn’t himself while in the outfield. Age and injuries quickly made him a liability in each corner, which was something a team like the Mets couldn’t afford. These issues were the reason why Cuddyer only appeared in six games throughout the entire postseason. As the team went deeper into October though, Cuddyer served the veteran role in the dugout. He gave some great advice to top outfield prospect Michael Conforto in his first major league playoff experience. It definitely seemed to work because Conforto went on to make some serious noise at the plate for the Mets. Guys like Cuddyer, who consistently grinded in their career to get the job done, always seem to come back to baseball. It would come as no surprise if Cuddyer returns to the dugout in a coaching role at some point in time.
As Cuddyer closes the door on his playing days, he finishes with a pretty solid resume. He played over 1,500 games at the major league level while hitting 197 home runs, getting on base at a .344 clip, and knocking in 794 RBIs. He also won a Silver Slugger and finished as a top 25 MVP finalist twice in his career; once for the Minnesota Twins and then the second time around as a Colorado Rockie.
Even though he didn’t win a World Series during his lengthy playing days, he posted a strong .306 batting average in 28 career playoff games. He wasn’t too shabby during the regular season either, as he batted a solid .277 for his career. There’s more to the back of Cuddyer’s baseball career than just some stats though, he was known as a great teammate wherever he went. A trait like that is something people in baseball will remember a lot longer than a batting average or home run total.
This writer wishes Cuddyer a happy retirement and the best in whatever he chooses to pursue next in life. There aren’t too many guys that are a better role model for young athletes to look up to these days. Sadly, Cuddyer didn’t have the perfect ending to his career, but the knowledge he passed on to so many ballplayers in his day will no doubt better the game of baseball. In this writers opinion, that kind of accomplishment is right up there with winning a World Series ring. Thanks again Michael Cuddyer, for showing so many people how to play and appreciate the game of baseball the right way.