Would You Have Signed Melky Cabrera?

Yes, a second “Would You …?” post in the same day — but, what else are we Mets fans to do? You already know the subject based on the headline, but let me preface it.

While researching something else, I happened upon this remark in the baseball blogosphere:

I find it hard to process the new Melky Cabrera contract that he signed this week with the Blue Jays. Two years and $16M for a 4 win player is an excellent contract coming from the free agent market.

This price sets Cabrera’s yearly contribution as a roughly 2 WAR contributor. I’ve never considered that the baseball market prices in a moral component in any significant way. (Some truly unsavory individuals get contracts in line with their performance in spite of their unsavory nature.) So in some ways, this contract says to me that baseball teams didn’t believe that Cabreara’s performance over the last two seasons wasn’t including a significant PED component.

Is there a better way to explain such a steep discount for Cabrera? He’s in his prime years. He’s an average-ish outfield defender. He’s hit for impressive offense two years in a row. The only true black mark on his resume was his 2012 suspension for PEDs. Was no other GM willing to step in with a third year? No one was willing to offer a 2Y, $10M deal? The situation seems odd but kudos to the Blue Jays for what looks like it could be a steal in terms of baseball production.

To protect the innocent, I will not reveal the source. I’m assuming the author of this work doesn’t believe that PEDs affect a baseball player’s performance in any way whatsoever (in which case, why would they be outlawed by MLB?). And that’s fine, as everyone has a right to their opinion. But the passage strikes a chord in Flushing, where there is a gaping hole in centerfield, and Cabrera might have been a relatively inexpensive solution — when compared to the likes of, say, Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, or Michael Bourn. The blogger cited above offers a strong argument from the standpoint of statistics; if you are someone who believes a baseball team can be built entirely on paper, you might find it entirely plausible. Even if you don’t go solely on the numbers, you have to admit there is at least a hint of intrigue in Melky Cabrera; is he as good as he was in 2012? Is he at least as good as he was in Kansas City in 2011 — or was that another PEDs-padded season, and he was merely lucky not to have been caught? Better yet, was Melky Cabrera “clean” in 2009, when he posted a .752 OPS in 154 games as a 24-year-old with the Yankees, and if so, could he repeat that kind of production in his late twenties — supposedly, the “peak years” for a ballplayer? Further, if you believe Cabrera could be a viable, productive everyday centerfielder, could you look past his crime?

Post your thoughts in the comments.

12-13 Offseason, Would You ...?

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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