Minnesota made a $25 million offer to Michael Cuddyer at least 10 days ago and signed Josh Willingham to replace him yesterday, and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Cuddyer “is in agreement” with Colorado on a three-year, $31.5 million deal.
By avoiding any comments to the media and not giving the Twins a decision for more than a week Cuddyer made it pretty clear that he preferred not to return to Minnesota. It seems unlikely that Colorado was his first choice when the offseason began, but few teams appeared willing to give the 33-year-old right fielder a three-year commitment and obviously calling Coors Field home is a nice bonus for any hitter.
And of course $31.5 million is pretty good money, too. Cuddyer, who was the Twins’ first-round pick out of high school in 1997 and played his entire career in Minnesota, hit .284 with 20 homers and an .805 OPS in 139 games this year and has a lifetime .794 mark.
In addition to saving $10 million in the Cuddyer-for-Willingham swap the Twins also receive a pair of compensatory draft picks, although neither will be in the first round thanks to the Rockies going 73-89 in 2011.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.