Impending free agent Melky Cabrera has spent two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, experiencing about as many highs and lows as one player can endure in a two-year span. Maybe it was the fall in 2013 that set it up, but Cabrera’s rise back to relevance certainly caught a lot of attention around baseball.
On Monday, that return to prominence was recognized with a fifth place finish in the Sporting News American League Comeback Player of the Year award voting. In the vote cast by his fellow players, Cabrera received just six total votes.
The overall standings were as follows:
- Chris Young – SP, Seattle Mariners – 49 Votes
- J.D. Martinez – OF, Detroit Tigers – 22 Votes
- Scott Kazmir – SP, Oakland Athletics – 14 votes
- Derek Jeter – SS, New York Yankees – 11 Votes
- Melky Cabrera – OF, Toronto Blue Jays – 6 Votes
One can hardly fault Young for placing first, as he came out of nowhere to win 12 games and post a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts for the Mariners after bouncing around Major and Minor League Baseball for years. Likewise, J.D. Martinez was a huge story for the Detroit Tigers after years of failing to realize his potential in Houston, only to land in Detroit and put together a .315/.358/.553 batting line with 23 home runs and 76 RBI.
Curiosity sets in though when you see Scott Kazmir pop up on the list. In what is a complete Clark Griswold/Big Ben moment, Kazmir somehow qualified for the vote again in 2014 after placing third in the 2013 ballot. That comeback last season helped Kazmir swing a 2-year, $22 million contract after spending 2012 in Independent Baseball.
Still, despite the low finish, it was a great year for Melky Cabrera, who like Kazmir timed his comeback performance with his walk year. The comparison between 2013, when Cabrera was hampered by a tumor on his spine, and 2014 is like looking at night and day.
Cabrera looks to hit the free agent market with a solid head of steam as soon as the World Series is over, and his presence as one of the top bats available may net him the contract he was looking for prior to his positive testosterone test in 2012. The Blue Jays will remain in the bidding and both parties appear to want to negotiate a reunion for 2015 and beyond. However, it comes down to dollars and years, both of which may be more plentiful on the open market.