Report: Melky Cabrera, Blue Jays start negotiations on extension


Almost since the moment of his final at bat of the 2014 season, impending free agent Melky Cabrera and the Toronto Blue Jays have expressed mutual admiration and a mutual desire for the outfielder to return to Toronto in 2015. Of course, a lot of teams and players do the “desire to return” dance in order to posture for the fans, but in this case it appears to be a bit more than putting up a front.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Blue Jays and Cabrera have begun the process of negotiating a new deal. That  will be great news for Blue Jays fans who feel one of the key moves the Jays needs to make this winter is bringing back Melky Cabrera, especially after he rebounded to the tune of .301/.351/.458 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI in 2014.

That said, it appears that the Blue Jays are wading into the water slowly, dipping their toes in with what appears to be a barebones offer, as Heyman notes the team is initially offering a 3-year deal. Given how Cabrera performed in 2014, not to mention the dearth of available outfielders on the free agent market, there is little doubt that Cabrera will decline such an offer and look for something a little more long term.

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Previously, I had discussed the possible framework of a deal for Cabrera, given his age, performance, and standing on a barren market. In that piece, I felt that Cabrera’s performance and position in the market could have him looking at a deal somewhere in between the deals currently being played under by Hunter Pence and Alex Gordon. Both of those outfielders are far superior to Cabrera, but both also signed their deals as extensions and not facing a similar free agent market. With that in mind, I felt the Blue Jays outfielder would justify a 4-year deal at an average annual value of $16 million. Heyman feels as though Cabrera could command as much as five years, which would put him right at the Blue Jays line in the sand on 5-year deals.

The fact that the Blue Jays are starting negotiations with a 3-year offer is a sign that they are not willing to simply sweep Cabrera off the market, instead choosing to be cautious and approach negotiations sensibly. The team obviously feels confident in its negotiating position, and also realizes that it can fall back on the $15.3 million qualifying offer that it intends to offer Cabrera should the two sides not come to a deal prior to five days after the World Series is completed.

However, given they exercised the same approach last season and lost out on numerous free agents because of it, they may want to exercise a bit more urgency. Knowing the Blue Jays negotiating tactics, perhaps this is why fellow outfielder Jose Bautista felt that there was a 50/50 chance of Cabrera returning next season. While Bautista felt that Cabrera would shop himself on the market, he also felt the Blue Jays would get last crack at him.

"“I think the Blue Jays are going to have a shot at bringing him back, so hopefully for our fan base and for my sake – making my job easier and having him on base a lot, because he does get on base a lot with his bat – hopefully the team does take that chance and re-sign him somehow.” – Jose Bautista (h/t"

Needless to say, there is a lot of work to be done in these negotiations and there isn’t likely to be an sort of quick resolution. The best advice would simply be to strap in and get ready, it’s going to be a bumpy offseason.

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