Heading into the offseason, the Diamondbacks have very few small holes on their roster. The only real question mark going into 2012 is the third base position.
After Mark Reynolds was traded to Baltimore last offseason, Arizona turned to a platoon of veterans Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum to man the hot corner. Mora was released in late June after hitting only .228 in 42 games and Blum spent most of 2011 battling injuries.
That left Ryan Roberts getting the majority of the starts down at third in the remaining three months of the season. In receiving the most playing time he has gotten at the big league level, the crowd favorite didn’t disappoint. Roberts hit .249 setting career highs in home runs with 19 and RBI’s with 65.
Despite Roberts having a career season, the Diamondbacks will more than likely look into improving the position this offseason. Several fans won’t like me saying this, but Roberts is not an everyday starting third baseman. He is best when starting 3-4 times a week giving different guys a breather throughout the year.
The only problem with finding a replacement for Roberts is that there isn’t a ton of talent in this year’s free agent market. Aramis Ramirez is the biggest name available, but this year’s Silver Slugger award winner at the position is more than likely out of the price range for Kevin Towers and company.
The guy who should be on Arizona’s radar in fact didn’t play a single game down at third base in 2011. Who is that man you ask? His name is Michael Cuddyer.
Although he didn’t see any action down at the hot corner this past season, Cuddyer came up as a third baseman in the minors and has played 171 games down there over the course of his career. He will never be mistaken for Brooks Robinson down there defensively, but he does a solid job.
That is the one word you can use to describe Cuddyer. Solid. He doesn’t really do anything with flash and doesn’t have a particular skill that he is exceptional at, but he does pretty much everything you ask for above average. Think of him as a Craig Counsell type with better power.
If you take away his 2008 season where he only played in 71 games, Cuddyer has hit at least 14 long balls and driven in 70 runs in each of his past five seasons. This season, the 33-year-old hit well above his career average and saw his power numbers increased compared to 2010, but he drove in less runs because of a pretty poor Twins offense.
Because of how consistent he has been over the past five or six seasons, Cuddyer would be a clear upgrade over Roberts. Tatman is coming off of an impressive season, but he doesn’t have the track record that Cuddyer has put together in Minnesota. Remember, if you take away 2011, Roberts is pretty much a career minor league player.
Only question remains is how much Cuddyer would cost? Cuddyer got paid $10.5 million last season and will probably ask for near that amount in a new deal. I think the Diamondbacks would pay that total for a one and possibly a two-year deal, but any more years than that would be a no go. Of course, Cuddyer might not want that type of deal.
Signing Cuddyer would instantly remove the only real question mark that the D’Backs have on their roster heading into next season. He would also provide more depth to the roster because he can play a number of different positions and would add another veteran presence to a young clubhouse.
Sounds like a win-win to me.