Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Why the Phillies Should Sign Melky Cabrera


Last week, I wrote about how it would be a mistake for the Phillies to sign Braves CF Michael Bourn to a free agent contract this offseason. Not because I think he’s a bad player or a malcontent, but because of his age and the amount of years and money it would take to bring him to Philadelphia.

The cost of signing Bourn would be just too much.

But it is for those same exact reasons that suspended Giants CF Melky Cabrera should be near the top of the Phillies’ outfield wish list for 2013.

I know what you’re thinking. Clearly, this Stolnis moron has flipped his lid. Cabrera was just suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for a positive test for testosterone. Not only did Cabrera cheat, but he lied about it when asked about it directly by a baseball writer three weeks ago. This is a bad guy and the Phillies should stay away at all costs.

And normally, I’d agree. But when you think about it, signing Cabrera makes sense for one reason.

The price is right and the risk is low.

ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote on Wednesday that Melky was in line to receive a free agent contract in the neighborhood of five years and $85 million. That’s a lot of money for a guy who was no better than a fourth outfielder prior to 2011. He was probably the number two or three outfielder in the free agent market, behind Josh Hamilton and possibly Bourn. He also plays a premium position (center field) for which teams always find a way to overpay. And, his numbers the last two years speak for themselves.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2005 20 NYY AL 6 19 19 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .211 .211 .211 .421
2006 21 NYY AL 130 524 460 75 129 26 2 7 50 12 56 59 .280 .360 .391 .752
2007 22 NYY AL 150 612 545 66 149 24 8 8 73 13 43 68 .273 .327 .391 .718
2008 23 NYY AL 129 453 414 42 103 12 1 8 37 9 29 58 .249 .301 .341 .641
2009 24 NYY AL 154 540 485 66 133 28 1 13 68 10 43 59 .274 .336 .416 .752
2010 25 ATL NL 147 509 458 50 117 27 3 4 42 7 42 64 .255 .317 .354 .671
2011 26 KCR AL 155 706 658 102 201 44 5 18 87 20 35 94 .305 .339 .470 .809
2012 27 SFG NL 113 501 459 84 159 25 10 11 60 13 36 63 .346 .390 .516 .906
8 Yrs 984 3864 3498 486 995 186 30 69 417 84 284 467 .284 .338 .414 .752
162 Game Avg. 162 636 576 80 164 31 5 11 69 14 47 77 .284 .338 .414 .752
NYY (5 yrs) 569 2148 1923 250 518 90 12 36 228 44 171 246 .269 .331 .385 .716
KCR (1 yr) 155 706 658 102 201 44 5 18 87 20 35 94 .305 .339 .470 .809
SFG (1 yr) 113 501 459 84 159 25 10 11 60 13 36 63 .346 .390 .516 .906
ATL (1 yr) 147 509 458 50 117 27 3 4 42 7 42 64 .255 .317 .354 .671
AL (6 yrs) 724 2854 2581 352 719 134 17 54 315 64 206 340 .279 .333 .406 .739
NL (2 yrs) 260 1010 917 134 276 52 13 15 102 20 78 127 .301 .354 .435 .789
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/16/2012.

Have his statistics been influenced by a fair amount of luck? It’s possible. His BAbip in 2011 was .332 and this year is an astronomical .379. His current stats may not be sustainable.

So, why would I propose the Phillies make a run at Melky Cabrera in the offseason? It’s simple.

Low risk, high reward.

A long, multi-year deal for Cabrera is out of the question. No team is going to invest multiple years in someone who has been proven to be a cheater. So Cabrera, a player who would have been impossible to sign for anything less than four years, can now probably be had for a one-year deal, with a possible vesting option for year two.

If Melky Cabrera can be had for a one-year, $5-6 million deal, why would the Phillies not do that?

He’s also a better choice because, at just 27 now, he’s three years younger than Bourn and way cheaper than Hamilton.

In fact, the Phils could sign Melky AND B.J. Upton and give themselves a really good shot at a young athletic outfield in 2013. The Phillies could even structure a contract for a second year that would only vest if Cabrera met certain performance benchmarks. In other words, no second year unless Cabrera can demonstrate that his improved offensive performance the last two years wasn’t the result of luck and/or cheating.

Frankly, Cabrera’s suspension is the best thing that could have happened to the Phils. It provides the team a chance to sign a potentially good player for almost nothing while giving them financial flexibility after 2013 to make more changes if necessary.

And hey, if Melky goes back to his negative WARing ways like he did when he was a huge underachiever for the Atlanta Braves, the Phils will be rid of him in no time.

So, sign the cheater, Ruben. It’s really the least risky thing you could do.

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