Michael Cuddyer retired from baseball a surprising move that potentially will free up more money for the Mets to spend this winter.

Cuddyer, who announced his decision on The Players’ Tribune, was due $12.5 million next season. It’s unclear exactly how much the Mets will get back from that total, though anything close to the full amount could be enough to alter the Mets’ free agency plans this winter.

The Mets have shied away from engaging the upper end of the free-agent market and have said publicly that they have little appetite in the kind of long-term deal that would be required to sign one of those players.

Just two years removed from an All-Star Game nod and leading the NL in hitting with a .331 average, the 36-year-old Cuddyer endured one of the worst seasons of his career.

After signing a two-year deal worth $21 million – a signing that cost the Mets’ their first-round draft pick – he hit .259 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI. By season’s end, he was largely supplanted in left field by rookie Michael Conforto.

Entering next year, Cuddyer appeared ticketed for a limited bench role, providing backup at first base and in the corner outfield. Through a spokesman, the Mets offered no comment.

Cuddyer also did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite his struggles on the field, Cuddyer lived up to his long-held reputation as a clubhouse leader. His veteran leadership emerged earlier in the season, when the Mets struggled to keep themselves in contention.

It was Cuddyer who began the game-end ritual of awarding a WWE-style championship belt to the game MVP following every Mets victory.

Speculation about Cuddyer’s future cropped up on Friday night, when the transactions page on both Major League Baseball and the Mets’ website showed Cuddyer as retired.

The line was later deleted off both pages, which are maintained by MLB. A spokesman declined to say if the listing was an accidental technical glitch meant to be displayed at a later date.

Cuddyer underwent surgery in November for a core muscle injury that hindered him for part of a disappointing season. He was slowed by a knee injury midseason, which opened the door for the promotion of Conforto.