The right-handed-hitting Cuddyer, 32, hit .284 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs for the Twins last season. He has hit at least 20 homers three times in his career, including a career-high 32 in 2009. In 1,139 career games, all with the Twins, Cuddyer is a .272 hitter with 141 homers and 580 RBIs.
The Rockies also were looking to remake the flavor of the clubhouse after finishing 73-89 last season and not showing the toughness that had become a trademark of the club in recent seasons. The team has added a pair of veterans via free agency: catcher Ramon Hernandez for two years and $6.4 million and Cuddyer.The Rockies still aren't likely done rebuilding their 2012 roster. Left-handed-hitting Seth Smith, who figures to be supplanted by Cuddyer, is the team's main chip in its attempts to fill other holes. There is a key need for a starting pitcher who is capable of throwing 200 innings, with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa having to come back from Tommy John surgery and out until sometime around June. The Rockies rid themselves of $7 million in salary by dealing relief pitcher Huston Street to the Padres and further trimmed the payroll of a projected $2.6 million when they sent arbitration-eligible third baseman Ian Stewart to the Cubs as part of a four-player trade, helping the club achieve enough payroll relief to make an offer to an outfielder like Cuddyer. The Rockies began pursuing Cuddyer early in the free-agency period, but needed the market to fall into place. That occurred on Thursday, when outfielder Josh Willingham signed a three-year deal with the Twins. But signing Cuddyer means the Rockies will not be able to continue to pursue Hiroki Kuroda, a right-hander reportedly looking for a one-year deal in the $13 million range.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.