Melky Cabrera recently made it known that he would welcome staying with the San Francisco Giants next year. Commenting on the possibility of a long term deal in the near future, Cabrera said “I’m a free agent next year, but the Giants organization is treating me very well.” Cabrera would go on to say, “the [agent] knows what I want, so he’ll talk to the Giants.”
All of that sounds like great news for the Giants and their fans. Now read between the lines.
At age 27, Melky Cabrera is in the prime of his career. Coming off a season in which he recorded 201 hits while hitting .305 for the Kansas City Royals, Cabrera is serving up quite an encore as he’s currently hitting .353 and leads the majors in hits with 119.
Signing a one-year deal with San Francisco after being traded for Jonathan Sanchez last offseason, Cabrera and his agent will likely be looking for a long term deal. How Long? Probably $15 or $17 million a year, for five, potentially six years based on recent activity.
In May, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles signed a contract extension for six years $85.5 million, followed by Los Angeles Dodgers signing Andre Eithier last month for $85 million over five years. The Cabrera camp will assuredly be using those contracts as comps for their negotiation.
While the Giants will make the argument that Cabrera hasn’t shown the consistency Eithier and Jones have or the ability to hit 20-plus home runs every year, it might not matter.
According to Andrew Baggarly of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, Sabean has commented that “the stars would have to align” if the Giants were to re-sign Cabrera during the season. With one of those key components being the permission of ownership, it seems highly unlikely based on their recent dealings.
Although the Giants offered Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum five-year deals over the past six months, it’s been reported the shift in ownership’s strategy has been to avoid long term deals, especially with position players.
With two long term contracts still hanging over their heads (Barry Zito’s seven-year $126 million deal and Aaron Rowand’s five-year, $60 million deal), Giants' ownership will be very hesitant to offer Cabrera five years, let alone six.
Even if Sabean and ownership do offer Cabrera a five-year deal in the neighborhood of Eithier’s contract, which is highly improbable, it would behoove Melky and his camp to wait until the offseason and see what other suitors come calling.
One team that would likely enter the Melky sweepstakes is Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are one of a few teams that could offer Cabrera a five or six-year deal and pay above market value to get him. He’s probably even more attractive to Boston executives, being that Melky has proven he can handle the bright lights of New York and the rabid New York Yankee fans.
Besides Boston, there are other teams that would be interested in Cabrera and wouldn’t mind offering him a long term deal at top dollar. One team that would love to have Melky in left field is the Dodgers, and they clearly have ownership's blessing to spend money.
Right now, Cabrera is saying all the right things regarding his time in San Francisco, the fans and the organization. But as we know, money talks, and with the Giants unlikely to offer him a long term deal for $15-plus million per year during the season, he’ll wait until he’s a free agent in the offseason.
If Cabrera does become a free agent, which is probably the direction Cabrera’s agent is advising, and San Francisco is forced to compete with the Red Sox’s or the Dodgers' payroll, it will be a lost cause.
(Andrew Baggarly's full article regarding Sabeans comments can be read here. http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-san-francisco-giants/giants-talk/Could-Giants-extend-red-hot-Cabrera?blockID=714652)