With the pieces starting to fall in regards to free agent outfielders, the market for Melky Cabrera should be evolving quickly, and it wouldn’t be out of the question for it to come to a resolution at the MLB Winter Meetings which start Monday. The former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder is said to be drawing interest from a number of clubs, with the Seattle Mariners becoming the latest to throw their hat in the ring according to Bob Dutton at The News Tribune.
According to Dutton, the Mariners are looking to add another outfielder, and preferably a switch-hitter. Of course, the team added Nelson Cruz on a 4-year deal last week, giving them the right-handed power bat that the team was needing. Adding Cabrera would allow the team to slot him into the number-2 spot in the line-up, where he spent most of the season hitting with the Blue Jays.
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The Mariners seem like a logical fit for Melky, especially if they are willing to pony up the 5-year, $50+ million deal that Cabrera is said to be looking at. After having already signed Cruz and forfeited their first round pick, the Mariners could take a similar approach to the Baltimore Orioles did in 2014, when they went all in by inking Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez in the same year, forfeiting their first two picks last season. Losing a second round pick by signing Cabrera, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, would be minimal for a starting outfielder over the next four to five seasons.
It would be an interesting move, especially given that Cabrera’s likely replacement was acquired from the Mariners earlier this week. While not directly, that could be seen as the Blue Jays trading both Melky Cabrera and J.A. Happ to the Mariners for Michael Saunders, and saving roughly $15 million in the process.
That said, the Mariners stand to see a bit of competition in that regard. The Orioles and San Francisco Giants are both among the teams that shown interest in Cabrera this winter. The Orioles have already lost Cruz and netted the compensation pick in return for him, meaning that they only lose a few spots in the draft should they opt to ink Cabrera. Likewise, the San Francisco Giants have a pick to play with after Pablo Sandoval signed on with the Boston Red Sox.
Also on the fringes are the Kansas City Royals, who have been tossed around in various conversations in relation to Melky. The Royals have a limited budget to play with, unless they can move some of their pricey bullpen pieces (which shouldn’t be a problem). Kansas City also has some rotation questions to answer, with James Shield expected to depart via free agency this winter, so the team may see it best to allocate some of those funds to a proven starter, i.e. former Royal Ervin Santana. However if Shields signs elsewhere, Kansas City will also have a pick to play with. The only true question in their pursuit is how big they see their window of opportunity as and if they feel they can repeat their 2014 success.
Regardless, Melky Cabrera remains a hot commodity despite the Toronto Blue Jays apparently moving on. You can’t blame Toronto for stepping away. Five years of Melky seems a bit extreme, given his limited mobility in the outfield, and despite his offensive upside, he doesn’t profile well as a designated hitter.