In a newsy day for Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays, the club elected to extend left-fielder Melky Cabrera a qualifying offer of $15.3 million for next season, guaranteeing themselves a compensation draft pick if the 30 year-old signs on with another team.
This comes as no surprise to Jays fans as this move had been projected for months as the two sides failed to reach an extension prior to the end of the season.
Most journalists and experts following the Jays say that Cabrera will surely decline this offer and opt for free agency hoping to break the bank and increase his annual wage from $8 million last season.
It’s hard to tell what the future holds for Cabrera coming off a comeback season which saw him produce a .301/.351/.458 slash with a wRC+ of 125 and 16 home-runs. Arguably, Cabrera was one of, if not, the strongest players from the 2014 campaign therefore the loss of his talents would be crippling for the Jays’ 2015 playoff hopes (that’s right I said it).
On the free agent market, it’s tough to predict what Cabrera could make. Using Dave Cameron’s formula for estimating player’s worth, one WAR for 6.2 million dollars (adjusted with inflation from 2013 to around $7 million), Cabrera’s services will likely cost the winning suitor somewhere in the neighbourhood of $18 million per season.
However, given that the team who signs Cabrera will have to surrender a draft pick, he may not garner the paycheque he originally hoped for. History has supported this belief as last off-season saw Ervin Santana sign for $14.1 million, about $3 million less than his 2013 WAR value suggested. It’s quite clear teams are somewhat disinterested at the notion of forfeiting a draft pick and big dollars to sign this type of free agent.
The Jays will have until Nov. 10th to negotiate a deal with Cabrera whether or not he declines the initial qualifying offer. Anthopoulos has been quite clear that he would like to re-sign Cabrera at the right terms, but has been rather ambiguous at what those terms are.
With today’s transactions, more payroll will be available to re-sign Cabrera; however, it’s arbitrary whether or not he is worth upwards of $16 million for more than two-to-three seasons. If Cabrera wants a long-term commitment, in his condition, it’s uncertain whether or not the Jays will vigorously pursue him.
The move should be regarded as a win-win for the Blue Jays organization. If he re-signs, great; if not, the Jays will retain a compensation draft pick for the 2015 draft and will face the arduous task of replacing one of 2014’s finer talents.
Either way, the ball is Cabrera’s court. Your move Melky, your move.