Free agent targets: Should the Blue Jays consider Everth Cabrera?


The Toronto Blue Jays are no strangers to reclamation projects. Alex Anthopoulos often leaves no stone unturned in regards to the down and out, former All-Stars, top prospects, or independent league players just looking for another chance to reach the show. If there is a possible diamond in the rough, you can expect the Blue Jays general manager to sniffing around it.

Everth Cabrera is one such diamond in the rough, but he comes with the caveat that he’s in the really deep, thick rough.

You don’t find too many 28-year-old shortstops that are one year removed from an All-Star campaign available on the free agent market, let alone with a tag of possible reclamation project. But that’s exactly what Cabrera is, having put together 3-win season as a member of the 2013 San Diego Padres. During that season, he slashed a solid .283/.355/.381 with 37 stolen bases.

More from Jays Journal

Unfortunalely, that’s not necessarily the complete picture either.

Cabrera received a 50-game suspension during that 2013 season, a by-product of his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal that rocked baseball during that campaign. While Cabrera was remorseful for his part in the scandal, he didn’t do himself any favors when he came back and struggled, both offensively (.232/.272/.300) and missed a good portion of the season with hamstring issues.

You could understand if teams would have reservations given the suspension and the subsequent down-year. However, Cabrera didn’t feel that was enough to hurt his value. He decided he needed an  arrest to seal the deal.

In September, Cabrera was pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. He was released with pending charges. In November the charges of DUI were dropped against Cabrera, but the San Diego County district attorney’s office decided to prosecute him for resisting arrest during the stop, a charge that carries the maximum of one year in jail if convicted.

The Padres decided that they had seen enough and opted to non-tender Everth Cabrera in just his second year of arbitration, making him a free agent this winter. However, free agency could be a challenge considering the pending legal charges against him.

That all said, agent Scott Boras still feels that Cabrera could net a deal, noting that there are already teams looking to overlook his troubles.

"“Certainly, we’ve had interest in Everth Cabrera. We’re walking through the procedures on his situation here in the offseason. We expect all that to be cleared up for the season.” – Scott Boras via Union Times of San Diego"

Boras goes on to make a good point about Cabrera, noting that despite his legal concerns a team could benefit from taking a one-year flyer on Cabrera.

"“Everth Cabrera is a very talented player, so there’s that tweak in there (that makes you say), ‘Hey, if this guy could give you All-Star talent and I’m able to get him at a shorter term and a very young age, this guy could really have a big season.’”"

Could the Blue Jays be one of the teams that see Cabrera as a risk worth taking, possibly at second base? If so, would the performance justify the risk?

Steamer projects Everth Cabrera to hit .251/.312/.336 with a wRC+ of 84, 5 home runs, 39 RBI, and 30 stolen bases over the course of 122 games in 2015. By comparison, Ryan Goins projects to slash .240/.279/.329 with a wRC+ of 67, 3 home runs, 33 RBI, and 4 stolen bases. That plays out to a 1.3 win season for Cabrera against a 0.1 win season for Goins, making Cabrera a definitive upgrade over what Goins would give the Blue Jays. Additionally, he brings a switch-hitting bat and speed to a line-up that could use balance on both.

After making $2.45 million in 2014, and looking for a short-term deal to rebuild his value, both as a player and as a human being, Everth Cabrera could make some sense to the Blue Jays. Toronto would ideally only want a one-year placeholder anyway, with Devon Travis needing another year of seasoning in the minors before he’s ready to take over the job.

But upgrades to the roster don’t always outweight character concerns either, and Everth Cabrera would come to any team with a handful of them. Toronto has been able to work through issues with Melky Cabrera in the past, so there is precedence there, but  Melky’s issues were also not on par with what Cabrera presents either. Given the work the Blue Jays have done to change the tone of the clubhouse this winter, those issues would weigh heavily on any decision the team would make on Cabrera.

The entire thought is likely moot anyway. Most teams are unlikely to make a move on Everth Cabrera until they know the full extent of his legal woes, and until those play out and a team has a good sense of whether he’ll be available to play, the Blue Jays and other teams will look over other options first before walking down this road.