SB Nation's Chris Cotillo reported Cabrera will receive a two-year deal with a team option, while the New York Post's Ken Davidoff noted the deal is worth $18.5 million over that time frame. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal confirmed the 30-year-old is headed to the Big Apple, pending a physical.
MLB Network Radio's Casey Stern offered his take on the move:
Cabrera is a valuable infielder whose numbers from 2015 may not look good on the surface but are deceptive. He got off to a rocky start this past season but batted .328 after the All-Star break, acquitting himself well in a de facto free-agent audition.
The fact that the veteran is a switch-hitter only helped drive up his price tag. He wound up with 15 home runs, 58 RBI and a .265 average in 2015.
Since Cabrera was searching for a multiyear deal, it was almost guaranteed Tampa Bay wouldn't re-sign him. This has to be a crushing blow for the Rays in light of how manager Kevin Cash articulated Cabrera's value on and off the diamond on Sept. 30.
"We really rally around Cabby," said Cash, per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. "He does a tremendous job on the field, and it might be even more impressive what he does in this clubhouse, and the energy he brings."
Furthermore, Cabrera and designated hitter John Jaso were the team's only regular contributors to become free agents in 2016. It's hard to determine where else the Rays would spend their admittedly limited money.
New York is getting a solid everyday starter in Cabrera who is coming off a hot conclusion to the 2015 campaign at the plate and seems to have corrected his erratic play in the field that was scrutinized when he had 19 errors for the Cleveland Indians in 2012. He only made nine errors in 136 games (131 starts) this past season.
In the absence of Cabrera's experience in the infield, the Rays will likely be turning to disappointing former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham to fill the void as it stands. Unless the club is willing to spend in free agency, it is most certainly getting a significant downgrade at a vital position.
Now that Cabrera has left, the Rays are going to count on third baseman Evan Longoria and second baseman Logan Forsythe to lead the way. At least Tampa Bay's nucleus is intact, though it will take something special for the Rays to be competitive in a loaded American League East Division next year.