Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 12/15/11

It wasn’t dire for the Minnesota Twins to re-sign Michael Cuddyer. Instead of bringing back the former first round pick, the Twins have reportedly agreed to a deal with Josh Willingham. Terry Ryan can talk all he wants, but Willingham’s signing seems to indicate that Cuddyer will have to find a new team this off-season. While fans might be upset about losing one of their longest-tenured players, the Twins are better off allowing Cuddyer to test the waters elsewhere.

Cuddyer may have been with the Twins his entire career, but he wasn’t about to offer them a “home-town discount.” The Twins reportedly offered Cuddyer a three-year, $25 million deal. After he delayed his decision for too long, the Twins were able to sign Willingham to a slightly cheaper three-year, $21 million contract. While Cuddyer posted a higher WAR than Willingham last season, he’s not worth an additional $4 million when you consider all the factors.

It’s easy to compare Cuddyer and Willingham and see some similarities. Both players are 32 years old and play corner outfield positions (and not particularly well). While Cuddyer was a full win better than Willingham last season, Willingham has been a full win better than Cuddyer when you add their three year averages.

Cuddyer’s 2011 slash line of .284/.346/.459 is actually slightly better than Willingham’s .246/.332/.477, but Willingham also had to play in a tougher ballpark. According to the 2011 park factors, O.co Coliseum suppressed hits and home runs slightly more than Target Field. So while it looks like Willingham may have started his decline phase last season, some of his struggles can be attributed to his park. Even though Willingham also experienced a decline in his walk rate — due to a new approach at the plate — he still walked at a higher rate than Cuddyer last season. If Willingham’s new ballpark boosts his offensive performance to previous levels, he’s a good bet to be slightly better than Cuddyer going forward.

Not only are the Twins getting a slightly better player at a cheaper price, but they will also gain an additional draft pick once Cuddyer signs with another team. Under the old CBA, both Cuddyer and Willingham were considered Type A free-agents, meaning any team that signed either player would have to surrender their 1st round draft pick. With the new CBA, Willingham no longer carried that designation, meaning the team that signed him would be able to keep their 1st round pick. Cuddyer, on the other hand, remained a Type A free-agent. By signing Willingham over Cuddyer, the Twins not only are able to keep their first round pick, but will actually gain a draft pick once another team signs Cuddyer.

While it might be hard for fans to say goodbye to Cuddyer, the Twins made the right move here. Even though both players can be viewed as similar, the additional draft pick the Twins gain by allowing Cuddyer to walk makes this swap a clear win for Minnesota.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

A-Rod, Yankees, union in talks to donate HR bonus to charity

Dez Bryant, Cowboys reportedly on verge of contract extension

Report: Braxton Miller to reveal 'immediate plans' next week

Kobe responds to Aldridge report with funny meme

One pitch away: Carrasco loses no-hitter in bottom of the 9th


England loses World Cup semifinal to Japan in heartbreaking fashion

Braxton Miller had 'successful' check-up visit

Raptors signing Carroll is shrewdest move of free agency

Report: Los Angeles Clippers will sign Paul Pierce

With Kevin Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Aldridge crosses Lakers off list, did not mesh well with Kobe

Sizing up baseball's (potential) trade deadline sellers

Emmitt Smith backs out as judge at Miss USA Pageant

Holes-in-one at PGA Tour event means $100 in fans' pockets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

David West explains why he opted out of Pacers contract

Warriors, Draymond Green agree to 5-year, $85 million deal

Twins call up top prospect Miguel Sano

Robert Griffin III speaks at UN to advocate for protecting oceans

Cavaliers re-sign Iman Shumpert to four-year contract

Mike Green is joining the Red Wings on a three-year deal

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans until 2020

ESPN denies censoring Keith Olbermann commentary

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Selecting the 2015 AL All-Stars

NBA Draft grades: Eastern Conference

Under the radar NBA free agents

Michael Sam, boyfriend broke up?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.