Free Agent Profile: Is Asdrubal Cabrera a Blue Jays Target?
Toronto Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos may attempt to do his best impression of Eminem’s “Cinderella Man”. “Who can catch lightning in a bottle? Set fire to water?” In an effort to solve his issues at second base, he could very well try to catch lightning in a bottle.
He has already stated that he is looking for short term options at the keystone position.
They have already brought in Devon Travis as the long term solution when they traded Anthony Gose to the Tigers. There are some who think Travis may be ready to step into the job sooner rather than later, but he is more likely to start the year in AAA.
So, who are these guys who could hold the fort until Travis is ready? Well, according to a Spanish report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN Desportes, the Blue Jays are among the clubs who’ve shown “more interest” in signing Asdrubal Cabrera. You’ll have to translate the page, which doesn’t exactly provide perfect English, but what is clear is that Rojas tells us that Asdrubal would be willing to move to third base (which the Blue Jays don’t need him to do) or accept a one year contract to re-establish his value.
The 29 year old was an All Star in 2011 and 2012, but has seen his stock decline over the last couple seasons. He spent last season between the Indians and Nationals. He saw time at 2B and SS. The questions remains if he would provide a suitable option over the crew of guys the Blue Jays have already to choose from. With Maicer Izturis and Ryan Goins already looking to be favored options, would Cabrera really be worth exploring?
When you look at his numbers, the first reaction may be to say that he does indeed bring an upgrade over what is currently on the roster. His production from last season would certainly be a welcome addition to this lineup. 14 HR and 61 RBI would be very welcome from the 2B position and look to be more than what would be produced by the in house options.
He produced 15.9 RAR (Runs Above Replacement). Cabrera also experienced the lowest BABIP (.272) of his career last year. With a return to his ‘normal number’, he could indeed represent an upgrade. According to
FanGraphs.com, his Steamer projections
give us hope that he is worth a look. He is projected to hit .251/.316/.397 with 15HR, 61 RBI and 66 runs and to be worth 1.4 WAR. I think Blue Jays fans would be thrilled to get this kind of production. Can we expect that the others would even come close to this? Oh, he is also a switch hitter, which would look good in the righty heavy lineup.
So, what about his defense? In 48 games at 2B, Cabrera made just 1 error. Fangraphs.com has him worth -5.3 UZR/150. For comparison, Maicer Izturis was worth -26.7 in 2013 (we can’t use 2014 since he missed almost all of it). Ryan Goins was worth 5.7. So, Cabrera may not be a defensive upgrade over Goins, but it wouldn’t appear to be a huge regression. In fact, Goins is even more valuable as a short stop, but there is a huge $22M wall in his way at that position.
Cabrera may be a tough contract to gauge. He just finished a 2yr/$16.5M contract, yet the perception is that he has declined in value. Interestingly, based on his production, Fangraphs says he should reasonably expect $9.6M in free agency. It would appear that Asdrubal Cabrera is statistically worth more than the perception. Could he accept a one year deal to increase that perception? Would the Blue Jays really offer him something that is close to his statistical worth? With bullpen issues, etc do they really have the money to do that?