Most of the big time free agents are off the board, leaving just spare parts and stopgap players on the shelves. One such player is Orlando Cabrera, who’s certainly familiar with this role. None of his three career free agent contracts were agreed to before the month of January, and he even had to wait until early March before joining the Athletics in 2009. Once again, he’s waiting for a team looking for a short-term solution to call his name.
The number of teams looking for an upgrade at short is surprisingly small, but the Reds (who employed Cabrera in 2010) are one of them; they recently spoke to Edgar Renteria’s agent. Perhaps the Pirates get involved as well. A number of clubs are looking for infield help off the bench, including the Giants and Yankees, but Cabrera doesn’t exactly qualify as a bench player. He’s played shortstop exclusively for the last ten seasons, with his only other playing time coming at second base (just 241 career innings). That doesn’t mean he can’t play second or third, just that he hasn’t done in a while.
At age 36, Cabrera’s game is slipping noticeably. He was never a great on-base threat, but his OBP fell to just .303 this past season, his lowest since his rookie season. His overall batting line (.263/.303/.354) represents the lowest OPS (.657) he’s ever put up in a full season. Cabrera’s defense has declined but still qualifies as above average at +4.5 UZR over the last three seasons. The baseline for shortstop production is pretty low these days, so Cabrera can still be a viable everyday player.