Aug 8, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) connects for a single against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY SportsConsidering the buzz that Alex Anthopoulos has generated for the Blue Jays this offseason, it is difficult to imagine that any of his deals this winter could be categorized and underrated. But when you swoop in like, dare I say it, a ninja and acquire four former all-stars and still have a solid farm system to speak of afterwards, you know you’ve had a good winter.
However one transactions, nested neatly between the two blockbuster trades that brought Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Emilio Bonifacio, and R.A. Dickey to Toronto, the signing of Melky Cabrera is somewhat lost in the mix.
The former San Francisco Giants left fielder obviously has his question marks after being suspended for the final third of the 2012 season after a positive test for synthetic testosterone and then an ill-advised cover-up attempt. Many teams knew that coming into the offseason, so the assumption was that Cabrera would get signed to a low-end, 1-year contract that would allow him to reestablish himself as a legitimate ballplayer and show that his performance was not a product of the enhancers.
Anthopoulos shocked many by signing Cabrera to a two-year deal, at $8 million per season, firstly because he got Cabrera to sign a multi-year deal and secondly because, at the time, it looked like he overpaid. However, it after the market shook out and other outfielders were plucked off the board, this deal started to look like a much bigger bargain.
For instance, let’s compare Cabrera to two other, similar outfielders signed this offseason; Shane Victorino and Angel Pagan. Pagan signed a 4-year, $45 million deal to stay with the Giants, while Victorino was inked to a 3-year, $39 million contract by Boston.
Granted, I am looking at this from the perspective that Cabrera’s 2012 is not a complete fabrication of his testosterone usage, but we can see why this signing was such a bargain. Pagan parlayed a career year into a big contract, yet he is being paid $29 million over the life of the deal for almost a full win less than Cabrera and and 7 fewer runs. Likewise, Boston is forking over $23 million more to Victorino for 2.3 fewer wins and 22 runs, simply because the Red Sox were forced to pay for a character make-over and the need to field a competitive, yet long-term, cost friendly yet competitive team for 2013. Additionally,
Now, again this is all betting that Cabrera can be a relative facsimile of his 2012 self under the watchful eye of Major League Baseball. If he can, the Jays got an absolute steal and Anthopoulos will have correctly predicted the market and gotten one of the best players available at the position without overspending to do so.
If he cannot, Anthopoulos guarded himself by holding it to a 2-year deal, meaning the long-term ramifications will be minimal. At worst, he gives Toronto the flexibility to judge the futures of Anthony Gose and Colby Rasmus going into the 2014 season.