July 19, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) waits to bat in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SportsAt one point, the Toronto Blue Jays had seven players committed to various rosters for the 2013 edition of the World Baseball Classic. That number can be reduced to five after both Melky Cabrera and Esmil Rogers opted out of the games, according to John Lott at the National Post. Both instead chose to prepare with the Blue Jays during Spring Training rather than play for their native Dominican Republic.
The decisions were obviously not easy ones, but in the end may be the best for both players.
Melky Cabrera is coming off of a season in which he received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for synthetic testosterone. He has been subsequently linked to a Miami area anti-aging clinic that is being investigated by both Major League Baseball and federal authorities for distribution of illegal performance-enhancing substances.
The left fielder signed a two-year deal with the Blue Jays this winter and is looking to rebuild his image after the above suspension and subsequent cover-up attempt. He finished the 2012 season with a .346 average, .906 OPS, 11 home runs, and 60 RBI before the suspension.
Esmil Rogers is a different story. Toronto acquired the 27-year-old reliever from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Mike Aviles and they have big expectations of him out of the bullpen this summer. He is coming off of a season in which he was 3-3 with a 4.06 ERA and 9.5 K/9 ratio while splitting time between Colorado and Cleveland. However, after his move to the American League (and out of Coors Field), Rogers proceeded to lower his ERA by 5 runs and his walks per nine innings by nearly 4.
The choices by Cabrera and Rogers leave five Blue Jays still playing in the WBC tournament, including Edwin Encarnacion, J.P. Arencibia, Brett Lawrie, R.A. Dickey, and Jose Reyes. Adam Loewen, who Toronto signed to a minor league deal, is also on the Canadian team’s roster. Toronto would prefer to have Dickey and Arencibia in camp as well, but understand the lure to represent their country in the games.