Well, Blue Jays fans, your thirst for actual announcements from your team has finally been slaked! Hours after the Blue Jays officially announced the blockbuster trade, they confirmed the signing of free agent Melky Cabrera. Cabrera, most recently of the San Francisco Giants was first rumoured to have signed a two-year, $16 million contract with Toronto last Friday.
In the trade with the Marlins, the Blue Jays plugged holes in the starting rotation and the middle infield, but they still lacked a left fielder and a first baseman / designated hitter. The signing of Cabrera fills in the outfield hole.
The $16 million pact with Cabrera--the Melk Man--is the largest free agent deal of the Alex Anthopoulos era, $5 million more than the recent three-year deal with Maicer Izturis. Unlike Izturis' deal, Cabrera's is only for two years and does not include a club option for a third. It is likely that Cabrera, 28, wanted to re-build his value after a season tainted by a steroid suspension and try for a big pay day on the free agent market while he is still in his prime.
Melky Cabrera had a career year this year, hitting .346/.390/.516 with 11 home runs in just 113 games before his season-ending suspension, although he did enjoy a .379 BABIP. I expect a regression in 2013--but you'd expect to say that for someone who had a wRC+ of 149 after being exactly average (100) for the rest of his career. Even though it is not likely that he would repeat his monstrous season, he is a great option to gamble on at $8 million a season. He'll only be paid $1 million more than Coco Crisp.
He will be joining fellow Dominicans Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Reyes in a powerhouse lineup next year. It reminds me of the Blue Jays of the mid-1980s with the likes of George Bell, Damaso Garcia, Tony Fernandez, and Manuel Lee.
I wonder what number Cabrera will be wearing next year? He wore #53 for the past several seasons in Atlanta, Kansas City, and San Francisco. Bruce Walton has been wearing #53 for the Blue Jays since John Farrell joined the club.