The San Francisco Giants are busy celebrating their second World Series title in three years, but this offseason will require a lot of big decisions from the front office. One of the most pressing is the fate of All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Until he was suspended on August 15 for failing a drug test, Cabrera was the second-best position player the Giants had. He was leading baseball with a .346 average, in addition to having a .390 on-base percentage and .516 slugging.
Yet here the Giants are, champions of the baseball world once again, and Cabrera was nowhere to be seen. The team decided to keep him off the roster for the postseason, even though he was eligible to return in the National League Championship Series.
It was a clear message to Cabrera that he was not needed for this team to win. Apparently the front office was right, as the Giants proved in sweeping the Detroit Tigers.
But now the team has to look at building the best possible roster for next season that will allow them to repeat this performance. Cabrera is a free agent, so what does the team do?
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Giants are not dismissing the possibility of bringing Cabrera back.
Yet, when you ask outside executives where Cabrera will end up next year, one locale that is repeated is San Francisco. In fact, even Giants officials privately concede the possibility.
At first glance, Giants fans may hate the idea because Cabrera has the dreaded taint of performance-enhancing drugs attached to his name.
To those people, stop and think about this Giants offense and what it could look like next season.
Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval will be back, though Pence didn't exactly light the world on fire after being acquired from Philadelphia in July. He hit just .219/.287/.384 in 219 at-bats.
Remember, we are just one year removed from the Giants finishing last in the National League in runs scored. In fact, they haven't finished better than sixth in the NL in runs scored since 2004.
Angel Pagan, who made a name for himself this season and in the playoffs, is also going to be a free agent. Considering that he plays a good center field, he could be in line for a sizable four- or five-year deal.
Who should be the Giants' top priority this offseason?
At 31 years old with no track record of success prior to this season, should the Giants be investing that kind of money in Pagan?
Cabrera, on the other hand, just turned 28. Regardless of what I or anyone else thinks about BABIP and/or luck, Cabrera has hit over .300 the last two seasons. He is a good base runner and can provide more on offense than Gregor Blanco, while playing a serviceable left field.
Also, given the way his stock plummeted after the failed drug test, Cabrera could potentially be signed for a cheap one- or two-year contract that would allow him to put himself in line for a bigger payday while he is still relatively young.
The Giants don't have enough depth on offense to consider letting one of their three-best hitters walk away, especially if they can get him for 50 cents on the dollar.
As the Giants have proved twice in the last three years, they don't need much offense to win a championship.
However, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have proven they will spend under new ownership, are not going to sit idly by and watch their biggest rivals win big without making moves to challenge them.
The Giants are not a perfect team. They have areas they can upgrade. Cabrera is a familiar face who they know better than most. It makes too much sense for the Giants not to pull the trigger.