Extension Candidate: Asdrubal Cabrera

It's difficult to argue with the selection of Jacoby Ellsbury as the American League's 2011 Comeback Player of the Year, but Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera belonged in the discussion.  A broken left forearm cost Cabrera much of the 2010 season, but he posted a career year in 2011, winning a Silver Slugger with a 25 home run campaign.  What would a fair extension look like?


First we must address the question of whether the Indians or Cabrera would be interested in a multiyear deal.  The Indians have to note Cabrera slumped to .244/.310/.419 in the second half.  That's useful for a shortstop, but not star territory.  Then there's the matter of Cabrera's defense, which UZR rates as consistently below-average.

On the other hand, Cabrera played in 151 games last year and hit .289/.344/.486 over the season's first four months.  He may have worn down toward the tail end of the season.  He hit more flyballs than ever and may truly be a perennial 20 home run threat now.  And it's possible the Indians prefer other defensive metrics that present Cabrera in a better light.  Jason Donald doesn't profile as an everyday shortstop; the Indians don't have anyone nipping at Cabrera's heels.

Cabrera, a client of Octagon, has a bit more than four years of Major League service.  Matt Swartz's projections call for a raise of nearly $3MM in his second arbitration year, bringing Cabrera to approximately $4.8MM for 2012.  As a comparison, J.J. Hardy's 2008 season, in which he hit 24+ home runs for a second consecutive year, earned him a $2MM raise heading into his second arbitration year.

Hardy had a couple of injury-plagued years before fully bouncing back in 2011.  His three-year, $22.25MM extension was signed in July, and the $7.4MM average annual value feels well light of what he could have earned on the open market.  Generally players, even shortstops, are compensated more for offense than defense.  Although Jhonny Peralta and Clint Barmes are superior defenders to Cabrera, Cabrera's 25 home run, 92 RBI campaign probably puts him ahead of the $5.5MM-range average annual values they scored on two-year free agent deals.  Of course, Cabrera is two full seasons away from the open market.

Toronto's Yunel Escobar doesn't have the power of any of those players, but he is a shortstop who signed an extension prior to his second arbitration year.  The contract is probably too team-friendly to be instructive, with $5MM salaries for each of the last two arbitration years and two club options for free agent years at the same amount.  Stephen Drew is a point of reference on the other end of the spectrum; he's under contract for $15.75MM for his last two arbitration years alone.

What would be a fair offer for Cabrera?  I'm thinking $4.25MM for 2012, $6.5MM for 2013, and $8MM apiece for two free agent years.  That'd put him around $27MM over four years, a nice guarantee for a player who had never topped six home runs in a season prior to 2011.  The Indians would probably prefer a club option on the last year or two, but with Cabrera within spitting distance of free agency they might not be able to get that.  It's possible the Indians don't value Cabrera's free agent years at that level, but I think a reasonable four-year extension would benefit his trade value.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

20 Responses to Extension Candidate: Asdrubal Cabrera Leave a Reply

  1. Color me skeptical, but I think Asdrubal’s power surge last year is more Boggsian than anything else.

  2. joeybw 4 years ago

    It’s crazy how he’s actually a below average defender because there were so many highlights of him making circus plays. It’s almost like finding out Fuld is bad at defense, his routes are a little weird, actually, he’s just quick enough to usually fix them.

    • $6592481 4 years ago

      I was equally surprised, and even more surprised to hear that Peralta is a superior defender to Cabrera. When I watched Peralta when he was in Cleveland, it looked like he was moving in quicksand up the middle. It seemed like if the ball wasn’t hit within arm reach of his initial position, he wasn’t going to get to it. 

    • My exact thoughts in your words.

  3. Sohaib Syed 4 years ago

    how the hell did yunel Escobar signed such a  team Friendly deal…. If i am Yunel Escobar i gotta fire my Agent on the spot for making me sign that deal lol

    so its what 2 yrs at 5 million then 2 free agent yrs also at CLUB options of 5 million in total 4 yrs / 20 …. woow

    • Runtime 4 years ago

      There’s no guarantee he’ll be able to produce better numbers than he did last year…. that’s how. BJs could easily option out of the last 2 years and give him a bigger extension for more $$$ if it plays out better that way.

      I just hope they don’t go with Hechavaria soon…

      • grownice 4 years ago

         Yunel has already had a better season then he did with the Jays last year. That contract is awesome , Hech will never hit like Esco , i highly doubt he’s up here next year, possibly next year if Esco moves to 2b and i honestly dont know if i would want that.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Anthopoulos told him to sign here or we’re trading you back to atlanta.

    • Lars Chunks 4 years ago

      $20M is a lot of money.  With the way he gets hurt all the time, I would probably take the guaranteed $10M, too.  I don’t see how anyone would give him much more than $8-9M/yr anyway.

      • grownice 4 years ago

        Where’s all his injuries? 130 gms played every year since 08. Thats not bad at all.

  4. Calling This Jhonny Peralta a better defender than anyone not named Yuniesky is pretty hilarious.

  5. h2h 4 years ago

    Wasn’t Peralta traded so that Asdrubal could take over short because he was a better defender?

  6. Michael Wilson 4 years ago

    “Although Jhonny Peralta and Clint Barmes
    are superior defenders to Cabrera, Cabrera’s 25 home run, 92 RBI
    campaign probably puts him ahead of the $5.5MM-range average annual
    values they scored on two-year free agent deals.”

    So 4 more homeruns, and 6 more RBI’s (to match a lower BA/OBP/SLG) means that Cabrera is worth more than Peralta?  The only thing he really has going for him is that he is 3 years younger so you hope for increased production or that he can maintain this production for longer.  Of course he has more of an injury history than Peralta so that is a bit of a risk.

    You should probably mention that Peralta is making well under what he should be making for the production he put out since he was signed after a couple of down years. 

    A 4 year deal with the first two matching estimated arbitration increases and 10-12 for the final two would probably be an adequate deal for both parties.

  7. Cody Thomas 4 years ago

    Wow.  Credibility lost.  I don’t care what saberdouchemetric you use, Peralta’s defense is superior to no one. 

    Don’t talk about what you don’t watch.

    • Michael Wilson 4 years ago

      That’s right! because Cabrera has highlights…just like Jeter! And Jeter was a gold glove before so obviously Cabrera is the best defensive player next to Jeter!!!1!!one!

      • Cody Thomas 3 years ago

         Right.  All I watch is highlights. Actually, in case you didn’t know, Peralta actually “played” for the Indians before we shipped him to Detroit.  He is awful defensively.  He has zero range and an inconsistent arm. 

  8. woodyheld 4 years ago

    Did you just write that Jhonny Peralta is a superior defender to Asdrubal Cabrera?  Seriously, get a TV.

  9. joeybw 4 years ago

    Hey, Tribe fans, what would the Rays need to trade to get Cabrera away from you guys? We got lots of MLB ready pitching and lots of prospects!

  10. Jeremy Hellickson and Jake McGee?

  11. Cody Thomas 3 years ago

    If you’ve watch the Indians play at all the last three or four years, you would KNOW that Peralta’s defense is NOT superior to Cabrera’s.

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