Saturday, November 17, 2012

Requisite Melky Cabrera Blog Post

Alex Anthopoulos has shown that he is definitely not finished in his quest to turn the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays into a World Series contender.  He has set about transforming this team, adding depth, pitching and star-power over this off-season that is not even a month old yet. 

His latest move was to sign free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a 2-year, $16 million contract (Anthopoulos's biggest free agent contract in his tenure as a GM) which sent another shockwave through the baseball world.  If you've been living under a rock for the past year, it will be news to you that Cabrera, 2/3 of the way through an outstanding career year in which he was leading the NL batting race, was suspended for 50 games for elevated testosterone levels.  He then tried to cover it up by creating a fake nutritional supplement and a fake website that did not explain any potential effects of the product.  Baseball was too smart for Melky and (unlike Ryan Braun in 2011), his suspension stood up.  The World Series champions Giants did not even add Cabrera to their playoff roster despite his being eligible. 

I don't think I can say much that other bloggers and writers haven't already.  Most, like me, are all for this move.  Cabrera's last two seasons were very, very good, and even if his numbers regress (which they almost surely will), still provides a much better option in left field than either of the home grown options in Gose* or Sierra or ex-Marlin Emilio Bonifacio (whom Mike Wilner has taken to calling "Boneface"). 

Here's the other reason why I like this deal so much.  By current MLB standards, $8 million a year in a 2 year guaranteed contract is a bargain for an outfielder who can provide what even a regressed Melky Cabrera can.  AND (here comes the best part) . . . he comes aboard practically free of charge.  That's right.  The Blue Jays are (reportedly) getting exactly $8 million dollars from the Miami Marlins as part of their mammoth trade.  So the Jays have reinvested the cash coming over from Miami to further upgrading the team instead of putting into the gigantic pocket that is Rogers communications.**

You might ask, "how can Cabrera be practically free?   That only covers the first year of the 2 year deal."  Simple.  MLB reached a new national TV deal that will kick in in 2014 that pays each team $25 million more than they're getting now.  This means that when the contracts of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle rise from the low $10-million range to the $20-ish million range in 2014 and beyond, the money will be there to cover it.  And one more year of Melky Cabrera at $8 million.

Finally, what this deal does is buy the Jays some time.  They are not rushed into pressing Anthony Gose into a regular major league role which gives him another year to develop in the safety of the minor leagues.  Secondly, it gives them another year to figure out what they have in Colby Rasmus.  If, by 2014, the team thinks that Gose can give them more than Rasmus, then Anthopoulos can try to find a taker for Rasmus and bring something else useful back.  If Rasmus finds his 2010 self again, and Gose fails to develop as hoped, then Rasmus can remain with the team.  If both players blossom, then AA has a fantastic problem on his hands with 2 valuable center fielders.  And if both players regress, then at least Gose will be in the minors in 2013 and Rasmus will be able to be hidden in a much more potent lineup than the team had last year. 

If Cabrera is a bust, the Jays really aren't hurt by this deal.  If he contributes, then AA has just made another deal to strengthen the team.


* Yes, I know that Gose wasn't drafted by the Blue Jays and can't really be considered "home grown."

** Jeffrey Loria would have said "$8 million?  Now I can buy that Italian estate I've had my eye on."

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