Many in the industry are baffled that free agent Michael Cuddyer is taking so long to make a decision.
A small, random sampling of executives produced some theories about why Cuddyer has yet to sign with the Rockies or any other team:
• Cuddyer is waiting to see if the Phillies retain free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies likely will need offense if they lose Rollins and turn to Freddy Galvis at shortstop. They’ve already added Ty Wigginton, who overlaps with Cuddyer, batting right-handed and playing many of the positions. They’ve also added Laynce Nix, who is expected to share left field with John Mayberry.
Cuddyer, though, would create more of an impact than either Wigginton or Nix, and his former teammate with the Twins, Jim Thome, surely is lobbying for the Phillies to sign him.
• Cuddyer still could return to the Twins, who on Thursday announced the signing of another free-agent outfielder, Josh Willingham, to a three-year, $21 million contract.
The Twins might find it difficult to squeeze both Willingham and Cuddyer into their budget, but they also might find it difficult to part with Cuddyer, who has spent his entire 11-year career in Minnesota.
The team’s latest offer to Cuddyer was for three years in the $24 million to $25 million range, sources say. It is not known how strongly they are still in the mix.
• Cuddyer could be an alternative for the Mariners if they fail to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Mariners are pursuing Cuddyer, sources say, but the extent of their interest is unclear. Their home park, Safeco Field, favors left-handed power hitters and would be a better fit for Fielder or Cuddyer’s former Twins teammate, free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel.
• Cuddyer is entertaining offers from other teams.
Some executives believe the Orioles might be involved in the bidding for Cuddyer, who is from Chesapeake, Va. A source with knowledge of the Orioles’ plans, however, said that Cuddyer is “not a leading topic” for new GM Dan Duquette.
Another possibility is that teams are attempting to make trades to clear a spot for Cuddyer — or trying to trade for similar types such as White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin.
Those teams surely would inform Cuddyer’s agent, Casey Close, of their plans, further stalling the process.
— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi