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How will Melky Cabrera fare in free agency?

Aug 15, 2012, 4:15 PM EDT

Melky Cabrera Reuters

Now this is going to be extremely interesting. Melky Cabrera spent two-thirds of the 2012 season as one of the NL’s 10-best players. Although he’s going to miss the final 46 games after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, he has a decent chance of winning the batting title given his current .346 average, with only Andrew McCutchen ahead of him at .359.

Cabrera was also plenty good with the Royals last season, hitting .305/.339/.470 with 18 homers, 87 RBI and 20 steals. That’s not at the level of this year’s .346/.390/.516 line, but it probably would have gotten a three-year contract worth $7 million-$8 million per year had he been a free agent then. Instead, he had to wait one more year.

Now Cabrera will head into free agency with All-Star numbers and a tarnished reputation. If the Giants make the playoffs and Cabrera shows early-season form in October, it could do wonders for his value. However, if the Giants miss the playoffs — as seems quite likely — then there’s nothing Cabrera can do between now and the winter to enhance his value. He wouldn’t even be able to play winter ball given his status as a suspended MLB player.

My thinking was that Cabrera was looking at something like $40 million-$48 million for four years as a free agent this winter. After all, he’s just 28 years old, making him something of a rarity — few quality position players hit free agency prior to turning 30. He’s not really being looked at as a center fielder any longer, but that was OK. There were other center fielders available anyway (Michael Bourn, B.J, Upton, Shane Victorino), and there will be more contenders looking for help in the corners than in center. Given his youth and his recent play, $10 million-$12 million per year seemed pretty reasonable.

Now there’s no way he’s getting that kind of contract. I imagine he’ll need to a take a one-year, make-good contract and then head back into free agency. He’ll still do well enough salary-wise — someone will risk $8 million-$10 million on him — but he’ll need to prove himself all over again in order to get a long-term contract.

  1. hittfamily - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    BJ Upton is getting richer evrey day. He’s on fire, Melk Man is a fraud, and The Flyin Hawaiin has already crashed and burned.

  2. redguy12588 - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I think before this that Melky could have been making $15M a season for 5 years EASY.

  3. icanspeel - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Ya I think before this incident he was on his way to getting a much inflated contract. Now it will be interesting since a lot of teams may not want to risk it, but a few may

  4. hittfamily - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Thumbs up/down haven’t shown up all day for me. Anyone else?

  5. tfbuckfutter - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    Let’s see….

    He was a really terrible player until last year, suddenly got pretty good then really good, then got popped for steroids.

    Yeah, someone should definitely take a chance on getting a clean, really good version of Melky Cabrera who is also, according to many, kind of a dick.

  6. lew24 - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    The Giants could be winners on this now. It might be easier to sign him now.

  7. royalbluepursasion - Aug 15, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    He won’t qualify for the batting title… only has 501 PA. Min is 502.

    I see a 2year/15-18MM deal back with the Giants.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      He can still win the batting title. In cases like this, they just add hitless at-bats until the plateau is reached. So, since they only need to add an 0-for-1 to Melky’s total, he’s still at .346.

    • kopy - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      MLB lets you add PAs to qualify. He will add an imaginary 0-1, his BA will fall to .3457 (or whatever), and let the chips fall. He’s like a golfer who posted a good score, and is waiting for everyone else to finish their round.

      Also, there’s no way some team out there doesn’t offer a reasonable 2-year deal.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        Sure, some team could offer him a two-year deal, but if Melky thinks he can play, it’d make a whole lot more sense to take a one-year contract and go back out into free agency.

        If Melky takes a two-year, $15 million deal, he’s basically saying he’s knows he may not be any good and he better grab the money while he can.

    • hittfamily - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      Andres Gallaraga won it in 93 with fewer than the minimum. They made him go 0 for X to get get to the minimum. They will do the same with Melky.

  8. mybrunoblog - Aug 15, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Melky now goes back to what he was. A decent 4th outfielder and a role player. Melky is exposed.

  9. Pierre Cruzatte - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    “All-Star numbers and a tarnished reputation”

    The reputation is maybe beside the point. The problem is that the NUMBERS are tarnished. Tough to have any idea what you’re getting in a “clean” Melky.

  10. stevem7 - Aug 15, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Funny that the writer classifies BJ Upton as a centerfielder. He was an infielder who’s defense was so terrible the Tampa Bay Rays put him in the outfield mostly because they had too much invested in him to let him walk away. But he is no certerfielder. But then, neither is Curtis Granderson with the Yankees so guess it’s just really a misnomer for some of these guys.

  11. genericcommenter - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    Is 501 PAs the cuttoff for batting title? If so, he just got it. I have a hard time remembering if the standard is 501 or 502- though I guess there is no exact standard because it’s based on the number of regular season games the team plays, right?

    It’s normally 3.1×162= 502… 502, isn’t it? Unless the Giants only play 161 this season..

  12. genericcommenter - Aug 15, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Melk’s only really had one season better than 2006, and I can’t think he was considered an 8 figure per year player then. His on-base skills really haven’t improved at all- people are talking about how good a .339 was last year?- and his power is basically doubles power. I don’t know- it doesn’t seem to me he is a sustaining .350 hitter, and the insanely high BA is where almost all his value comes from. Say he’s really the guy he was last year- a .339 OBP guy with 18HR power is a $12 mila year guy?

  13. humanexcrement - Aug 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    One good thing about being a Yankee fan: we never saw any of this crap from a guy like Cabrera. On a team captained by Derek Jeter, managed by Joe Torre and owned by George Steinbrenner, the crap Cabrera has been pulling since leaving the Bronx wouldn’t have been tolerated for one damn second.

    • byjiminy - Aug 16, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      Yeah, because no Yankee would ever take PED’s. Well except for A-Rod. And Clemens. And Pettitte. And Sheffield….

      But I agree with you in that the Yankees are much more professional about it. Meaning if he were still on the Yankees, he wouldn’t have done it so amateurishly, and he wouldn’t have gotten caught.

  14. metalhead65 - Aug 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    if anyone offers this cheat more than the min. then they are stupid and deserve what they will be getting as in the average player he was before he juiced.

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