For a large number of reasons, I breathed a big sigh of relief on Monday when outfielder Michael Cuddyer turned down Colorado's qualifying offer and signed with the New York Mets. In brief, Cuddyer was a redundant player given Colorado's current roster, he was a severe injury risk, and he was a player that has never been worth more than 3.1 rWAR in a season.
Most importantly though, by signing Cuddyer, the Rockies would have had to shed about $10 million in salary just to get back to their Opening Day 2014 payroll number. If the team is committed to sticking around that $90-95 million payroll number, signing Cuddyer - even to a multi-year deal structured like the one the Mets gave him - would have meant that Rockies would have had less leverage when looking to shed salaries this offseason and that the team would have been even more gun-shy about adding on more money.
Here's the payroll situation as it stands right now without Cuddyer, using estimates provided by MLB Trade Rumors for salary arbitration numbers:
That's right, the Rockies already have almost $89 million tied to the 15 players on their roster with an agreed upon contract or who will go through salary arbitration - plus the buyout for Brett Anderson's option. Add in the $5.5 million or so the Rockies need to fill out the roster with pre-arbitration players, and that's about $95 million. Then consider that Tyler Chatwood will almost certainly be on the DL and that Jhoulys Chacin is not a great bet either - at that point the ODP balloons to nearly $97 million without making any further changes.
I think that the Carlos Gonzalez trade rumors will continue to light the hot stove nearly all winter, not only from a baseball perspective on what the return could be but also for what the loss of his salary would bring in terms of payroll flexibility for this year and beyond. It's also why I think that Chacin in particular is a non-tender candidate this offseason and that Drew Stubbs and Wilin Rosario in particular might be on the market.
In any case, the Rockies need to be thanking Michael Cuddyer for pulling them out of a payroll mess of their own devising...and granting them a supplemental first round pick in the process. Jeff Bridich's gambit paid off this time, and in a big way.