Blue Jays Sign OF Melky Cabrera

As we await the pending blockbuster trade between the Jays and Marlins to be approved by major league baseball Alex Anthopoulos continues to shake and bake.  According to MLB trade rumours Melky Cabrera has signed a two-year deal with Toronto worth $16 million.

Fangraphs author Jeff Sullivan astutely wrote:

Likewise, the Blue Jays aren’t paying Cabrera to repeat his 2012, and they aren’t even paying Cabrera to repeat his 2011. According to our numbers, the last two years Cabrera has been worth 8.8 WAR over 268 games. If the Blue Jays were paying Cabrera to be that sort of player, they might’ve guaranteed $16 million over one year or $32 million over two years. They’ve opted for half that, and Cabrera has accepted.

Do you know what an outfielder needs to be to be worth $16 million over two years as a free-agent acquisition? Something in the general neighborhood of league-average. Even slightly worse than that, or league-average and injury-prone. Cabrera was that sort of player in 2009 with the Yankees, when he posted a 94 wRC+. He was just kind of average at everything. If Cabrera could be that guy for two years, the Blue Jays wouldn’t have made a bad investment, and if Cabrera could be better than that guy for two years, the Blue Jays would have made a solid investment.

To say nothing of the Blue Jays’ current position on the win curve — extra wins to them right now might be worth more than extra wins for many other teams. The Blue Jays see an opportunity to compete in the AL East right now, and they’re going after it, which makes the Cabrera move a lot more interesting than it would be if Cabrera signed for a year with some cellar-dweller. Cabrera could once again play a prominent role in a pennant race.

Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports had this to say:

Now they take a chance on Cabrera, who might very well have been National League MVP had the man with the plastic cup not showed up one unfortunate summer afternoon. They can’t have the slightest notion whether they’ve just bought the Cabrera who did very little for the Atlanta Braves in 2010, the Cabrera who lost some weight and added some game for the Kansas City Royals in 2011 or the Cabrera who was among the best players in the league for the San Francisco Giants in 2012.

So, it appears, the Blue Jays will hold open left field, pay him for something in between and hope those unreasonable levels of testosterone weren’t the explanation for the upward trend. He is just 28 years old, certainly has gotten into better shape, and presumably could be a late bloomer. Cabrera went from a guy who, by WAR, cost the Braves a half-win in ’10 to a guy who accounted for five wins in 113 games for the Giants in ’12, which seems like a big jump, but OK. Two years ago, his batting average on balls in play was .288 (.233 from right side) and this year it was .379 (.410 from the right side), but OK. People improve. Players in their primes improve.

More details to follow.

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