Jose Bautista: Slim chances of Melky Cabrera returning to Blue Jays


You can say this about Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista; he doesn’t mince words. In a wrap-up interview with the Toronto media (H/T John Lott, National Post), the Blue Jays right-fielder spoke candidly about the season, his admiration for rookie outfielder Dalton Pompey, and a few other topics.

When the topic turned to fellow outfielder, and impending free agent, Melky Cabrera, Bautista dropped what will likely be a ten ton brick on the backs of Blue Jays fans everywhere when he replied to the likelihood that Cabrera would not return in 2015.

“I have to assume that (Cabrera will not return). When you have the chance to re-sign one of the top free agents and you don’t take advantage of that opportunity, the chances of him coming back to you are pretty slim.”

Re-signing Cabrera is one of the biggest priorities that Alex Anthopoulos is faced with the offseason now upon the Blue Jays. At the very least, the team will extend the free agent a qualifying offer, estimated to be worth around $15 million this winter. That will give the Blue Jays an extended window in which to try and strike a multi-year deal with Cabrera before he hits the open market.

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Unlikely to accept a qualifying offer, the 30-year-old Cabrera is looking to cash in on a multi-year deal worth much more than the $8 million average annual value he signed for with the Blue Jays prior to 2013. Given that he put together a solid season at the plate, slashing .301/.351/.458 with 16 home runs, 81 RBI, a wRC+ of 125, and was worth 2.7 wins above replacement, Cabrera has positioned himself as one of, if not the top hitters on the free agent market this winter.

Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays will definitely pursue Cabrera with the intention of keeping him in Toronto for the foreseeable future. However, Anthopoulos will also do so with his eyes set on making a smart business decision and not hurting his chances at upgrading other potential trouble spots. To that end, Anthopoulos has already made it clear that the team intends to stick to its current policy of not exceeding five years on any deal, even for Cabrera. While that philosophy has bit them during negotiations with several free agents over the last several seasons, it seems to be a good decision when considering Cabrera.

Given his issues fielding his position and the long-term prognosis of his body type, I would find it hard to believe the Blue Jays would even exceed four seasons for Cabrera. If the bidding exceeds that rate, the team will gladly accept the compensation pick and move on to other targets, even if they aren’t quite on par with Cabrera’s bat.

They’ll just have to hope to find value elsewhere.