While the Phillies are close to wrapping up a new contract with closer Ryan Madson, they are also moving aggressively on another one of their primary targets in free agency.
According to Tom Sredenschek of FOX 29 in Philadelphia, Michael Cuddyer was in town today for a meet-and-greet with the Phillies.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com confirms Sredenschek’s report while adding that Cuddyer toured Citizens Bank Park and had lunch with Phillies officials. He also met manager Charlie Manuel, who flew in from Florida.
We learned over the weekend that the Phillies were “in serious pursuit” of Cuddyer while Jim Thome said during his press conference Sunday that he has done his part to make a recruiting pitch.
Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March, batted .284/.346/.459 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI and an .805 OPS over 584 plate appearances this season. He appears to be an ideal fit for the Phillies, who could use him in the outfield and at first base if Ryan Howard misses the start of the 2012 season following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. He also has experience at second base and the hot corner.
Cuddyer’s asking price isn’t exactly clear, but he reportedly turned down a two-year, $16 million extension with the Twins in August. He qualifies as a Type A free agent this winter, so the Phillies would surrender their first-round pick for 2012 (No. 31 overall) to Minnesota if an agreement is reached.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.