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Melky Cabrera must not think he’s a .340 hitter

Nov 16, 2012, 6:09 PM EDT

Melky Cabrera AP

Melky Cabrera signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Blue Jays, which seems pretty good given that he hasn’t played since getting slapped with a 50-game PED suspension and then got kicked to the curb by the Giants when he was eligible to return in the postseason.

Still, it’s a two-year deal at a fraction of what he figured to get previously. Even if he slumped some during the final month and a half and into the postseason, he was likely looking at something in the neighborhood of $50 million for four years as a free agent this winter. A strong finish could have netted him $70 million for five years.

So why lock into that extra year? Cabrera was no second-year guy needing financial security in the form of a long-term deal; he’s already earned about $11 million in his career. He could afford to gamble if he were confident in his ability to bounce back and put together a strong 2013 season. We may never know whether the Jays would have signed him to a one-year, $8 million deal if that’s what he preferred — they may have wanted that extra upside the second year provides — but it’s hard to imagine they or someone else wouldn’t have given him at least $6 million for 2013 alone.

It suggests to me that Cabrera doesn’t see himself coming back and having another season like his 2012. Because if he did, he would have taken the one-year deal and then chased the big payday.

Maybe I’m wrong. And I don’t want this to read as a condemnation of Cabrera. But it’s intriguing to me. I think of most athletes as supremely confident in their abilities on the field (or the court, track, rink, etc.). And while Melky took his game to a whole new level in 2012, he was also something much more than an $8 million player with the Royals in 2011. If he isn’t confident he can get back to that — if he doesn’t think of himself as being worth $15 million per year or what have you — then I’m not all that sure I’d want to sign him at any price.

  1. Fink - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Maybe he wanted to get 2 seasons in with a suddenly potent lineup…it’s like you consider $16 mil chump change after he got caught red-handed, and caught up in his lies. Hey, Melky, want to win? Want moderate stability that allows you to regain your sea-legs, and prove it wasn’t just the PEDs? Then this is the perfect deal.

    • cur68 - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM

      Not a bad narrative, Fink. Could be true. Another factor is Melky’s sense of guilt. Look what he did out of guilt already? Gave up the NL batting title. He didn’t have to do that. Taking this deal plays into that. He’s still got to go out there and face the music; face up to being known as a drug cheat. At least he doesn’t have to do so with the spectre of being a greedy, no-concsience bastard, too. If he backs it up with great play for low pay, is a model citizen, and tries to be a better man going forward he could find himself part of a great team in a suddenly weak division. I think he wants to change the narrative of his baseball career. From drug cheat to player who made a mistake and tries to make up for it by helping the team that gave him a chance. All for relative peanuts. Seems plausible to me.

  2. brianbowman16 - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    Maybe he didn’t want to play in 4 cities in 4 years. Maybe he thinks he can build more value over two years like he almost did with KC and SF

    • rich7041 - Nov 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      He’s already played for 4 teams in 4 years (NYY, ATL, KC & SF.) Toronto makes it 5 in 5. A trade could make it 6 in 6!

  3. smcgaels1997 - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    16 million isn’t worth it for lying …I could see a 1 year show me deal but 2 yrs 16 million? No way I’d try to beat that to get Melky

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 17, 2012 at 7:26 AM

      Waking up this morning to find out M Cabrera is gettting 8 mil per year makes me afraid to go to the supermarket for fear that coffee will be $50 a pound.

  4. pisano - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    The Jays wii have to be taken seriously, they’ve loaded up in a hurry.

    • bigdicktater - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      So did the Dodgers……………..

  5. pisano - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    error…. The Jays will….

    • frank433 - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      Jesus, take the Wii

      • Gonzo - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        lol Bravo, Frank. Bravo.

      • bbil2012 - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:23 AM

        Memorable interpretation of an otherwise crappy song.

  6. pdubbstrem - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    Classic trolling article. Not much else to it.

  7. csndrew - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    It’s not like Melky decides what his contract is going to be. Maybe his agent called around and that was the best there was….

  8. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 16, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    Another positive for the Jays that I haven’t seen someone bring up is that if he starts crushing the ball again, a 1.5 year deal left with like $11M remaining would be a huge bargaining chip for some good prospects if the Jays were so inclined to trade him.

    • nbjays - Nov 16, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Good point, COPO… who knows, maybe Jeff Loria will be in a buying mood again…

  9. yankeepunk3000 - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    very intriguing here…I do think he’s going to come back to earth…probally be a number 7 hitter at best…the Jays will over pay but its not a bad risk. in that line-up he might be able to hit for ab adequate average.

  10. whitlockd - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    He’s a career .284 hitter. Would anybody reasonably expect him to hit .340 again?

    • kardshark1 - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      No… but a .300 hitter with a .440 slg% seems about right. With his speed and that canon arm, what a bargain for 8 mil per. And considering Torii Hunter got 13 mil per for sucking in everything but BABiP, I suspect the smart GMs are a bit envious.

  11. jaybird22seven - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    1. Reyes
    2. Cabrera
    3. Bautista
    4. Encarnacion
    5. Lawrie
    6. Rasmus
    7. Lind
    8. Arencibia
    9. Izturis
    There is a new beast of the East !!!! Enough said !!!

    • approvenothing - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      Yea, not gonna lie to ya, the AL East may just be the division to watch this coming season.

      • kardshark1 - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:04 PM

        Everybody at ESPN agrees.

      • clydeserra - Nov 17, 2012 at 10:06 PM

        watch like what?

        the Jays have certainly improved, but have the Yankees? I don’t see it.

        the red sox? The rays? the Orioles?

  12. lazlosother - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    I’ve got to think the premise of this article is silly. We have a player coming off a suspension, one that damaged his value badly. In this situation is $16 million a bad thing? This is the type of money that could set you up for life.

    Players sign below market deals all the time before they are eligible for free agency. Does this mean they fear they aren’t any good? Probably not. A guarantee that will make one comfortable or wealthy is very appealing. Come the worst, he should be set for life. Come the best, he is 30, a free agent, and can look to make up for lost opportunities.

    Stating that he must have no self confidence due to the contract ignores the fact that performance isn’t a given. Injuries can happen. A player may take a shorter term contract in this situation not because they have not faith in themselves, but because it reduces uncertainty in the financial aspect of their lives.

  13. canadabaseball - Nov 16, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    He will be under 30 when contract is up and if he can hit 300 he can get a 6 year 70 mill contract . Write it down it will happen

  14. paperlions - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    In fairness, since 1950, there hasn’t been a single guy that was a career .340 hitter (using only data since 1950)…so….really, no one in MLB should think he is a .340 hitter….because whoever he is….he would be wrong.

  15. jjpileggi - Nov 16, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Perhaps he has that rare sense of shame about the PED situation and decided that a solid two year deal with a contending team was a good outcome given the suspension. His career write up will always begin with a reference to the PEDs and so perhaps having a championship after the stain is what is important to him. Anyway, I can dream…….

    John Pileggi

  16. kappy32 - Nov 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Cabrera did the right thing here & he has done the right thing since he got busted. Cabrera admitted his guilt right off the bat & didn’t play the public as fools with BS denials; Cabrera voluntarily removed himself from the batting title race so as to not tarnish one of the most coveted titles in the game; and now, Melky has priced himself with a reasonable contract so he can try to prove himself once again. To be completely honest with you, I was surprised he got 2 years; I was almost positive no one would give him anything more than a year at $8-$10 million with an out that if he got caught again, the team would be able to rescind his contract. The only reason why he probably got the second year at the amount he received was because of the way he conducted himself after being caught. Melky acted like a professional & he was rewarded with a professional contract. Good for him.

    • awisesf - Nov 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      My memory may be failing, but I remember this differently. Melky created a phony website to attempt to lie about the PEDs he was taking, left without talking to the team, and blew off management. I understand he “removed himself” from batting title consideration, but in reality he decided not to seek an exception to give himself enough at bats to qualify. (Which I guess would have gone something like, “Gee, I know I didn’t get enough plate appearances because, um…I got suspended, but…”)

      I really enjoyed watching him play this year, got caught up in the whole Melkman thing, then we all got burned. Guess I don’t see him as the noble upstanding guy you do.

  17. sawxalicious - Nov 17, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    I don’t know if the collective bargaining agreement allows for more frequent testing of individuals that get caught for PEDs, but I think it would be good for the game if those players faced weekly testing the year following their suspension…it would also be in the best interest of the player, as they would get a chance to try to prove they can play at a high level w/o the suspicion they’re doping again…if they can’t achieve that level again, it’s on them.

  18. jaybird22seven - Nov 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    The Blue Jays might now have the best top four hitters in baseball !!!

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