NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, December 11, 2015, 9:43 PM
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer is retiring from baseball.
Perhaps the most impactful offseason move for the Mets this winter did not come from the front office: Michael Cuddyer, who struggled to the point of becoming a backup to a rookie in his first year of a two-year deal with the Mets, has decided to retire.
Cuddyer, who was due to make $ 12.157 in 2016, will be 37 in March. The Mets offered a “no comment,” when asked about the outfielder.
A 15-year veteran in the majors, Cuddyer struggled with knee injuries during the season and had surgery to repair his “core muscles” in the offseason. He hit .259 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 117 games last season.
He became a platoon player in left field with Michael Conforto by the end of the season, and after a defensive debacle in the NLDS, was limited to just 12 at-bats in the Mets World Series run.
A two-time All-Star, Cuddyer was the 2013 National League batting champion.
The veteran was clearly thinking about retiring not long after the season. Sources said he discussed possible post-playing, coaching opportunities within the organization with at least one person.
With Cuddyer calling it a career, that frees up significant money for the Mets to go out and find some power bat for their outfield if they want. While Conforto will at least start the season as the Mets everyday left fielder, they can now look at bigger deals for a center fielder.
The Mets had been looking at smaller deals for a platoon player in center to pair with Juan Lagares and not shopping in the upper echelon of outfielders, but this could make them revisit a deal with Yoenis Cespedes, though a team source said that his price was still too high as of Friday.
The Mets’ philosophy toward their outfield position seemed to change toward the end of the Winter Meetings, so perhaps this was a consideration. Assistant general manager John Ricco refused to rule out the possibility of signing a player in place of Lagares.
“We’re looking at any way to make this team better. Any one player is not going to affect that completely if we can find a way,” Ricco said Wednesday when asked about Lagares.
Cuddyer, who was a career .277 hitter with 197 home runs, ends a distinguished career in perhaps a less than distinguished manner. The news leaked out on Twitter Friday evening when eagle-eyed fans spotted that it had been mistakenly posted on the Mets.com transaction page. It was later removed.