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Updated: December 9th, 2011 12:02am
Mackey: If Michael Cuddyer spurns Twins, it's probably not about money

Mackey: If Michael Cuddyer spurns Twins, it's probably not about money

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

On Wednesday, Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he wasn't banking on a resolution with free agent Michael Cuddyer before the winter meetings concluded, but he expected to pick up conversation again.

Thursday came and went, and baseball executives left Dallas with Cuddyer still on the market.

What's taking so long?

Well, for one, Cuddyer's wife gave birth to twin girls on Tuesday morning, which understandably delayed the process.

But beyond that, many of the same issues that frustrated Cuddyer at the conclusion of a 99-loss season haven't gone away -- nor will they, until cleats cross the chalk lines in April.

Sources with knowledge of Cuddyer's thinking said the veteran right fielder has major concerns about the Twins' ability to contend in the immediate future.

According to those sources, Cuddyer knows the only chance for the Twins to turn around quickly enough to make another playoff run in 2012 is if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau stay healthy and productive for the entire season.

Those are pretty big "ifs" to swallow for a guy who turns 33 in March.

Cuddyer also was frustrated with the overall negative atmosphere surrounding the Twins last season, one source said. He's hoping a month or two away from things has helped everyone in the organization figure out what needs to be fixed, but that's tough to know two months before spring training begins.

Some who know Cuddyer well even believe he had his heart set on leaving when last season ended. But that may have had something to do with the emotions of enduring an improbably difficult season.

As of Thursday evening, it was believed no other team had offered Cuddyer a deal similar to the Twins' reported proposal. But the Denver Post classified the Colorado Rockies as "serious suitors," adding that general manager Dan O'Dowd has a willingness to go three years.

The Twins continue to view Cuddyer as a high priority, but their latest offer -- reportedly worth $25 million over three years -- has been on the table for at least three days. And although Ryan did not issue a deadline, at some point, the Twins need to push ahead with contingency plans.

Some early projections had Cuddyer's value at or near $10 million per year, but that was back when the Philadelphia Phillies appeared to be serious contenders. Their interest has reportedly cooled in recent weeks with the additions of Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton.

The St. Louis Cardinals could also wind up being players now that Albert Pujols' departure has left a hole, and money to spend.

But if Cuddyer was going to get much more than $25 million over three years, it seems as if a team would have stepped up with a competitive offer by now. Again, suitors have known about the Twins' offer for three days.

Not to mention, does it make sense for Cuddyer -- who knows the Twins need all the help they can get this offseason -- to hold up the franchise for a few million dollars more?

Cuddyer has earned about $40 million during his 11-year career, and he is the ultimate example of a team-first player -- both on the field and behind the scenes.

He might wind up back in Minnesota when all is said and done.

But if he doesn't, money likely won't be the driving force.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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