Orlando Cabrera didn't sign with the A's until Spring Training had begun, partly because teams were reluctant to give up a top pick for him. It doesn't look like this winter will be much easier for the shortstop, in spite of some clever negotating by his agent.
Cabrera projects to be a Type A free agent, but agent Dan Lozano added a clause in his client's contract that prevents the Twins from offering arbitration. This gives Cabrera leverage because teams won't have to forfeit a draft pick to sign him.
However, Cabrera had a pedestrian year at the plate, appears to be declining defensively and is far from the only shortstop out there. The soon-to-be 35-year-old hit .284/.316/.389 with twice as many strikeouts as walks for the A's and Twins. Those numbers wouldn't be bad for a strong defensive shortstop, but the former Gold Golver made 25 errors and posted a UZR/150 of -9.9.
The market for shortstops includes Miguel Tejada, who probably won't cost a draft pick, and Marco Scutaro, who probably will. Jack Wilson, Adam Everett, Alex Gonzalez and others could be on the market, too. So will any team be prepared to match the $4MM base salary Cabrera signed for last winter?
The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Mariners, Nationals and Astros could all be looking for help at short this offseason (the Red Sox had some interest this summer). But with many free agents on the market and the possibility that the Rays and Brewers will make shortstops available via trade, Cabrera and his agent have another challenging winter ahead.