Twins pick up Cuddyer's option for 2011

Twins pick up Cuddyer's option for 2011

MINNEAPOLIS -- Michael Cuddyer was one of the main sparks for the Twins' stretch run in September that earned the club another American League Central title.

And on Saturday, the Twins confirmed that Cuddyer will be around to try to help spark the club for at least two more seasons, as they exercised the veteran right fielder's $10.5 million option for 2011.

"Obviously, I was excited," Cuddyer said when reached on Saturday. "This is where I want to be, I've made no secret about that. To know that I'm going to be here at least two more years is gratifying."

The option was part of the three-year, $24 million contract that Cuddyer signed before the 2008 season. With the extra year, he will be paid a total of $33.5 million over four years.

Minnesota was required to either exercise the option or to pay Cuddyer a $1 million buyout within five days after the completion of this year's World Series.

Cuddyer, 30, led the Twins with a career-high 32 homers and batted .276 with 34 doubles, seven triples and 94 RBIs in 153 games in 2009. He ranked in the top 10 in the American League in extra-base hits (sixth, 73), total bases (ninth, 306) and home runs (32, 10th). He was also 15th in slugging percentage (.520).

"Michael Cuddyer has been one of the leaders in our organization from the time we drafted him out of high school," Twins general manager Bill Smith said. "He's a leader on the field, he's a leader in the clubhouse and he had a tremendous year. We're thrilled to pick this up and keep him here at least through 2011."

While Cuddyer was the Twins' primary right fielder for most of the year, he spent the final few weeks of the '09 season as the club's first baseman, after Justin Morneau went down with a stress fracture in his lower back. After taking over at first, Cuddyer was especially strong at the plate, batting .282 with eight homers and 24 RBIs

For Cuddyer, the year he put together was personally gratifying, considering that it came after an injury-plagued 2008 season. The right fielder is optimistic that, at 30 years old, he still has many more good seasons ahead of him, and he's hopeful that they will all be spent in a Twins uniform.

"I continue to mature and continue to try to get better, year in and year out," Cuddyer said. "I feel good about myself, personally, but more than that, I feel good about the direction where this team and this organization is heading."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. John Schlegel, a national reporter for MLB.com, also contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.