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Rockies Ink Free Agent Michael Cuddyer to 3 years, $31.5M

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman broke the news this morning that the Rockies did, in fact, make a splash in the 2011 Free Agency Market by agreeing to terms with Michael Cuddyer.

The word last night was that Cuddyer was being offered 3 years, $27M. It would seem the Rockies budged. Whether or not that means they didn't have that figure in mind the whole time is left to be discovered.

Cuddyer, 33 by Opening Day, 2012, has played primarily RF for the Minnesota Twins over the course of his career, but has been known to make the jaunt over to the hot corner from time to time, along with playing a little 1B in relief of Justin Morneau.

Over his 11 years in Minny, Cuddyer has posted a .272/.343/.451 line which equates to a 111 wRC+ (or 11% above average). Those overall numbers are a bit misleading, as every full, healthy season Cuddyer has played in has typically produced better results (3 seasons above a 120 wRC+, 4 above 110 wRC+). His 3 most recent seasons have shown just shy of a 120 wRC+, which falls somewhere between the seasons Todd Helton and Seth Smith had.

How this will impact the team going forward is the next big question. Does a Cuddyer signing necessitate a Seth Smith trade, or will they keep Smith and use Cuddyer primarily at 3B, platooning in RF with Smith, and spelling Helton and Giambi while they refill their old man medicine prescriptions?

For as much as I've griped about landing Cuddyer, if they were to keep Smith in some form (platoonplatoonplatooncomeonjustdoit), you'd be keeping a generally plus bat in the lineup in Smith and then adding a plus bat to a position that was terribly negative last season (3B). Replacing Smith in RF looks to be a marginal upgrade for a $30M+ Pricetag (minus Smith's salary, of course), but replacing Ian Stewart/Kevin Kouzmanoff/Ty Wigginton at 3B would be a sizable upgrade, offensively speaking. Defensive issues are yet to be covered, but I'm going to bite my tongue until this offseason has finished unfolding.