Sep 3, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) looks on from the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Reds desperately need an upgrade in left field. Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera will be a free agent after this season. Could this flawed team and tainted player be the answer to each other’s future success? The potential pairing makes some sense but faces significant obstacles.
As Charlie Wilmoth points out at MLBTradeRumors.com, Cabrera will be the best corner outfielder available in free agency this winter, and by a pretty hefty margin. That assessment is “on paper,” of course, as any one of Michael Cuddyer, Josh Willingham or Colby Rasmus (or others) could turn in a better season that Cabrera in 2015.
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This is baseball, after all, so nothing is guaranteed except a long season.
“On paper,” though, Cabrera is the best of the lot, and so his services will be highly sought after. In an era were runs are more rare than a moment of Bud Selig humility, just about every team is looking for more and better offensive weapons.
According to Wilmoth’s count, Cabrera’s suitors might include the Reds, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. You can probably add the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to that list, because they are “in” on everyone.
Oh, and don’t count out the Toronto Blue Jays, Cabrera’s current employer, who will almost surely make the 30-year-old a qualifying offer at the start of free agency. As Wilmoth points out, that QO could make it harder for the Reds to pursue Cabrera since they would stand to lose a first-round draft pick for their efforts.
Then there is the little matter of Cabrera’s salary, which should land in the range of $12-15 million per year thanks to a nice rebound season (16 HR, 73 RBI, .301 BA, .808 OPS, 125 OPS+) in his second year removed from his PED suspension.
My guess is that price tag, along with the prospect of forfeiting a prospect, will be too much for Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, who is not much of a wheeler-dealer anyway.
Cabrera has the potential to provide a big boost from the below-average production the Reds has received in left from Ryan Ludwick and company over the last couple of seasons, but the cost is likely just too high. If the Reds are going to improve in 2015, it probably won’t be because they “Got Melky.”