East Coast a major pull for Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer wore the special blue and orange jersey and cap while participating in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby during All-Star facilities at Citi Field in 2013. Now he'll wear official New York Mets blue and orange.

Michael Cuddyer wore the special blue and orange jersey and cap while participating in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby during All-Star facilities at Citi Field in 2013. Now he’ll wear official New York Mets blue and orange.

Michael Cuddyer understood that whether he re-signed with the Rockies or took a free-agent offer from the Mets, he would be a part of a team wanting to make the immediate jump from also-ran in 2014 to contender in 2015. In the end, he preferred to make that leap on the East Coast.

It’s likely Cuddyer left money on the table with the decision. Had he accepted the Rockies’ qualifying offer, he’d have been paid $15.3 million for 2015 with another shot at free agency at season’s end. With the Mets, he’ll get $22 million over two years, including $8.5 million in 2015.

“I think you don’t see that often in sports, but this wasn’t about the money,” Cuddyer said. “That shows the importance I placed on playing for an organization like the Mets and coming back to the East Coast, which is more like home. Looking at who the Mets are and where they are with their talent, it was a good fit.”

Cuddyer, who will turn 36 in March, is from Chesapeake, Va. He is a long time friend of another product of that area, Mets third baseman David Wright.

It’s an interesting comparison. Which team is closer? Is it the Mets, whose pitching includes National League Rookie of the Year Jacob de Grom and the return to health of Matt Harvey? Or is a better bet than the Rockies, who have unquestioned offensive prowess when healthy? Looking at it objectively, Cuddyer helps fill a major offensive hole for the Mets. Even with Cuddyer, the Rockies still have to address their pitching.

But Cuddyer did not want to leave saying anything unfavorable about the Rockies’ future prospects.

“I still believe what I said at the end of the year as far as the Rockies being close talent-wise, with their position players and with the talent they have in their pitching staff,” Cuddyer said. “By all means, I still believe in the Rockies. It’s just that I looked at the Mets with what they have, with Harvey coming back and the years that some of the other guys had, and coupled that with the fact they’re on the East Coast. It was nothing the Rockies did or didn’t do.”

Cuddyer said he’ll leave Colorado with fond memories.

“Winning a batting title and starting in the All-Star Game [interestingly at Citi Field, where he also participated in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby] made 2013 an extremely special year, not only for me but for my family as well,” Cuddyer said. “None of that would’ve happened without me going there.

“Playing for the Rockies helped me hone my approach at the plate. I was able to watch ‘Tulo’ [Troy Tulowitzki] and ‘CarGo’ [Carlos Gonzalez] and take bits and pieces from both of those guys, and apply it to my physical and mental approach. I especially learned from ‘Tulo,’ and the way he went after every at-bat. It made me better to play every day with him.

“It was a tough decision, no doubt about that. I’m leaving a lot of great friends and a lot of great relationships, not only teammates but staff, trainers, clubbies, front office and ownership. The way the Rockies treated my family and me showed that they really cared.”

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