Melky Cabrera played with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 and 2014
After putting on a fireworks show at the MLB winter meetings that saw them land two of the top prospects in baseball — Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito in deals for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton — the Chicago White Sox are headed in one clear direction.
The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t going to do trade business at that level, but in Melky Cabrera, they could find a sensible mid-range outfield option should they choose to “spread the wealth” with their remaining off-season moves.
Cabrera, now 32, enjoyed a strong 2014 with the Toronto Blue Jays before signing his three-year, $42 million with the White Sox. He struggled in 2013, his first season in Toronto, but it was discovered near the end of that year that he’d been playing with a benign tumor on his spine.
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His time in Chicago also began with a poor season, but coming off a 1.6 WAR year in which he hit .296 and posted a .345 on-base percentage, there will be market appeal.
Given that he has just one year remaining on his deal at a somewhat-manageable salary of $15 million, Cabrera is a logical piece to move as the White Sox continue to look to the future.
Toronto still has plenty of options, of course, from free agent Dexter Fowler to the suddenly-crowded outfield in Colorado. Jose Bautista is re-emerging as an option, too, though reuniting with him would see the Blue Jays forfeit the compensation pick that would come their way should he sign elsewhere.
Further down the line, though, Cabrera makes a fine Plan B. Plan C, maybe.
The switch-hitter would bring valuable balance to a 2017 Blue Jays’ lineup, providing a decent combination of power and on-base ability.
Cabrera’s defence leaves much to be desired with negative Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) values over each of the past four seasons, but hidden in a corner spot, it certainly won’t be a step back from Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista.
Acquisition cost is a variable here as Cabrera’s $15 million salary would leave the Blue Jays with limited flexibility elsewhere, but of course that is a number that could become fluid based on the return package offered by potential trade suitors.
Committing one year to an outfielder instead of three or more also leaves the door open to young players like Dalton Pompey, Harold Ramirez, Anthony Alford, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. even sooner.