Amidst the Toronto Blue Jays’ latest struggles and piling injuries, it’s easy to forget how good a season outfielder Melky Cabrera is having.
Usually batting second in Toronto’s lineup, Cabrera has hit .301/.348/.459 with 11 home runs, 44 RBI and 56 runs scored in 92 games played this season.
With several of the team’s other stars such as Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie all having missed time with injuries already, Cabrera is one of the only regulars who has stayed healthy and consistently contributed throughout the season.
Ironically, Cabrera was arguably the most injury-prone player on the team last year. He was limited to just 88 games in 2013 mainly due to a benign tumor in his spine. That tumor sapped all the strength from the left fielder’s lower body and left him unable to run.
Following offseason surgery to remove the tumor, it was obvious that the Dominican had regained his strength and mobility. He came into 2014 spring training in great shape and proceeded to hit .405 in 23 grapefruit league games.
With Cabrera in the second year of a two-year, $16 million contract and set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the Blue Jays will soon have an important decision to make.
It’s worth noting that Cabrera was set to cash in big during the 2012 season when he hit .346/.390/.516 in 113 games for the San Francisco Giants. But a positive test for synthetic testosterone earned him a 50-game suspension from MLB and effectively ended his season. That’s the main reason Toronto was able snag him for cheap after all.
Based on his numbers so far this season, Cabrera has proven that he can be an impact player in the league without relying on PEDs. This means that he’ll likely draw large multi-year offers on the open market. Teams like the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox could all use outfield help and might make a play for the 29-year-old.
There haven’t been any indications that Cabrera wouldn’t want to re-sign with the Blue Jays. The team is a good fit for him with its large contingent of Dominican players and plays in a hitter-friendly ballpark.
But, at the same time, it’s hard to imagine the switch-hitter giving Toronto a huge discount in order to remain with the team. He missed out on a big payday two years ago and this free agency will likely be the final chance of his career to land a long-term contract.
If the Blue Jays are interested in retaining Cabrera’s services beyond this season, they’ll have to pay market value in order to keep him.
*All stats are from baseball-reference.com