As a baseball and Toronto Blue Jays fan, we are all well aware of Melky Cabrera‘s tainted past and his struggles in 2013. We are also aware that Cabrera has been on fire for most of the first 2 months of 2014. As of May 22nd, Melky Cabrera is in the Top 10 in the AL in runs (4th), hits (1st), triples (tied for 10th), and batting average (4th). So far in 2014 Melky Cabrera has been everything that Alex Anthopoulos hoped for when he signed him to a 2-year/$8 million dollar contract in the 2012 off-season.
Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus will be a free agents at year end and the Jays run the risk of losing 2/3 of their current outfield if they don’t re-sign them. I am not sure what type of budget AA will have to work with this offseason, I guess it depends on how the rest of 2014 goes. Will Rogers be willing to increase the budget to re-sign both players if the Jays make the playoff and make some noise…..who knows, but let’s forget the stats for a moment and look at the body of work these two guys have produced throughout their careers with a very elementary analysis.
Melky Cabrera (29 yrs old) is a decent LF who hits for average, can knock out 15-20 home runs, will strike out about as much as he will walk, and will put the ball in play more often than not. Whereas, Colby Rasmus (27 years old) is a future gold glover at a premium position in CF, is a low average hitter with the ability to hit 20+ home runs, will likely strike out 20-30% of the time a year but walks about the same amount as Melky.
If healthy, Melky Cabrera could be an important piece at the top of the Toronto Blue Jays batting order for years to come, plus at 30 years old, Cabrera still has some prime years ahead of him. Colby Rasmus at 27 years old is just entering his prime year and it is still possible that he reaches the potential that saw Baseball America rank him as the 3rd best prospect in 2009. Unfortunately, Rasmus has proven to be a very streaky hitter and is subject to prolonged cold spells….but when he is hot he is a feared power hitter. Before going on the DL last week, Rasmus had hit 4 home runs in his previous 10 games and was batting .289 during that stretch. Power at the CF position is a very difficult commodity to find and Rasmus is that type of commondity. Despite having 30 less at-bats than Carlos Gomez and Charlie Blackmon, Rasmus’ 9 home runs tie him with Blackmon and one behind Gomez.
To add another wrinkle to this situation, Anthony Gose has been making the most of the regular at-bats and reps he has received in Colby Rasmus’s absence. In limited action Gose has shown improved plate discipline and ability to lay down a bunt. Gose’s speed is game changing, even if his stolen base number over the past 2 year have been unimpressive. If Gose continues to take walks, see pitches, lay down a bunt hit or sacrifice, and provide speed in CF, than re-signing Colby Rasmus is less of a priority.
If I were the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays I would re-sign Melky Cabrera over Colby Rasmus because he is more consistent. Cabrera has more productive at-bats than Rasmus. I don’t think Rasmus will be able to replicate his 2013 BABIP of .356 ever again , where as, Melky Cabrera has consistently shown an ability to produce BABIP of +.300.
At the end of the day it will come down to dollars and cents and term. If AA lets Melky Cabrera get to the end of the season without re-signing him what would Cabrera be able to command on the open market with clean bill of health and no PED suspension hanging over his head. If Rasmus has another 20+ home run season and provide gold glove calibre defence, can Rasmus demand Adam Jones type money (6 year/ $85.5 million). More importantly will Rogers be willing to pay it.