Are Cincinnati Reds Pursuing Melky Cabrera?


Aug 31, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) hits a home run in sixth inning against New York Yankees at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a Cincinnati Reds fan left with a cold hot stove after yesterday’s “blockbuster” trade that sent Chris Heisey to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Magill, then today’s rumor mill might stoke your embers: the Reds are apparently “in” on free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.  According to Jon Heyman at, the Reds are one of several teams considering whether Cabrera is a fit.  

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This news comes as something of a bombshell, because the Reds have not previously been linked to any of the big-name free agents on the market this winter. While most expect the Reds to make a move to bolster their offense and fill a hole in leftfield, they have mostly been associated with lower-priced options like Nori Aoki and Michael Morse.  Cabrera represents a clear step or three up from those guys, in terms of both talent and potential salary commitments.

Cabrera rates as below average defensively, but he is a major plus at the plate, clubbing 16 home runs in 2014 to go along with a .301/.351/.458 slash line that resulted in an OPS+ of 126.  On his career, the 30-year-old has collected 1262 hits and checks in with an OPS_ of 103.  When healthy, Cabrera also has decent speed, putting up 10 triples and 13 stolen bases as recently as 2012.

The switch-hitting Cabrera, then, looks like he would be a great fit for the Reds, and he probably would, at least on the field.  The catch, as it usually is with the Reds, is in the pocketbook.  Steve Adams at predicts that Cabrera will land a five-year deal worth more than $66 million.  That’s a lot of money for a small market team with an already burgeoning payroll, but chances are that Cincinnati would not end up paying all of that money, because there is little chance that he would still be on the Riverfront for the 2019 season.

If the Reds land Cabrera, it will be a last-ditch shot to win something while they still have their core starting rotation intact, and while Joey Votto is still somewhat close to his prime. Even if they are successful in that quest, it’s a pretty good bet that they will be younger, and likely not very good, in 2015.  Still, bringing in Cabrera, while maintaining the rest of the roster, would at least give the Reds some hope to compete in 2015, which they can’t say with a straight face now.

Signing Melky Cabrera may look like a bad idea from the perspective of building for the future, but it does not appear that the Reds are prepared to do that in 2015, anyway.  This season will be a kind of gimme since everyone knows that the Reds free agent bubble is ready to burst.  Bringing in a big name as the All-Star Game comes to Cincy this season, and with one more chance to win before darkness descends, may not be the worst thing in the world.

Hey, at least it’s more exciting to think about than pondering why the Reds non-tendered Curtis Patch.