Michael Cuddyer a first-time All-Star at age 32

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I can’t summon up a lot of angst about this one.  No, Michael Cuddyer isn’t one of the AL’s top 10 outfielders.  One could argue about whether he’s in the top 20.  Still, I think every guy who sticks around as a nice regular for 12-15 years should get to experience an All-Star selection once.

Cuddyer, a free agent-to-be, is in his 11th season and very possibly his final season with the Twins.  He’s been a regular the last eight of them, hitting as many as 32 homers and driving in as many as 109 runs.  Along the way, he’s played whatever posititon the team has asked for him.  He was drafted as a shortstop, converted to third base and established himself as a full-time right fielder in the majors, only to return to the infield at both second and third when needed the last couple of years.

This season, Cuddyer shook off a positively horrible start — he went 16 straight games without an RBI to begin the season — to rebound to .286/.356/.459 with 11 homers and 32 RBI.  The .815 OPS ranks him eighth among AL outfielders.

In the end, Cuddyer is likely only in this position because Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau got hurt.  Also, a healthy Denard Span would have been a better choice for the AL roster.  Based on 2011 play alone, I’d rather have seen the AL team carry Alex Gordon in the outfield and then Scott Baker over Aaron Crow, leaving the Twins and Royals with their one rep apiece.

But I’m not upset over Cuddyer’s pick.  It’s a nice reward for a guy in the midst of a fine career who may never have such an opportunity again.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.