Melky Cabrera Rumors
Links from around MLB before the season’s final weekend of interleague play begins...
- The Royals announced that right-hander Felipe Paulino has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The 28-year-old will seek a second opinion on his elbow, and could choose to undergo Tommy John surgery. Paulino has a 1.67 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings this year.
- Executives from other teams and a few MLB owners are paying attention to the Blue Jays' 2010 draft class, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays chose upside over certainty under then-scouting director Andrew Tinnish and the results are promising so far.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean said he doesn’t expect to trade for starting pitching help, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes (Twitter links).
- The Giants haven’t started extension talks with Melky Cabrera and the team doesn’t consider Andre Ethier’s five-year, $85MM deal a comparable contract, Sabean said.
The Blue Jays designated Edwin Encarnacion for assignment on this date two years ago, and he cleared waivers two days later once the 29 other MLB teams had passed on him. Encarnacion now has 20 homers and a .283/.351/.574 slash line, so he's making a strong case for inclusion in next month's All-Star Game. Here are today’s links...
- The Rockies would have to be overwhelmed to trade Rafael Betancourt or Matt Belisle, so deals are highly unlikely, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). Teams don't generally view the Rockies as a team with lots of assets to trade, according to Olney.
- The Mets are going to wait a few weeks before "digging into" the trade market, Olney tweets.
- GM Brian Sabean told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that the Giants identified Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan as trade targets this past offseason because, in spite of their flaws, they’re both impact MLB players. “We're talking about switch-hitters who can hit almost anywhere in the lineup, play all three outfield positions and help you on both sides of the ball. There's a lot to like," Sabean said. Check out Crasnick’s piece for a detailed look at how the Giants scouted and built their new-look outfield.
- The Blue Jays have been telling teams they can’t take on any salary, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
We learned this morning that the Red Sox are expected to sign first round pick Brian Johnson and that Kevin Youkilis continues to draw some trade interest. Here are more notes from the AL East, starting in New York...
- Melky Cabrera broke out as an All-Star caliber player after the Yankees traded him, but hitting coach Kevin Long told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the switch-hitting outfielder has always had star potential. “If Melky committed himself to the Yankees as he does now, he would still be a Yankee,” Long said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Sherman he considers Eduardo Nunez a shortstop. Nunez, who has been sidelined since May with a thumb injury, "does not profile as an outfield guy," Cashman said.
- Jamie Moyer can opt out of his contract with the Orioles in the next few days if the team doesn’t select his contract from Triple-A, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter). The 49-year-old left-hander has a 1.69 ERA with a 16K/0BB ratio in three starts at Triple-A.
Many baseball people expect the Padres to trade Carlos Quentin, but the team is in a fluid situation, so that assumption is not safe, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Padres should have some payroll flexibility this offseason, so they could keep the outfielder despite their modest budget. Here are Rosenthal’s latest rumors:
- Jeff Francoeur has played through ailments and injuries this year and the Royals like his leadership, so they aren’t necessarily looking to trade him.
- Last August the Royals offered Melky Cabrera the same two-year, $13.5MM contract Francoeur eventually signed, but Cabrera declined the offer and the Royals traded him a few months later.
- Rosenthal suggests the A’s aren’t eager to trade veterans for marginal returns. The team is hovering around .500 and plays 18 of its next 28 games at home. The A’s would probably love to trade Kurt Suzuki, Rosenthal writes.
- One exec predicts the Phillies don’t have enough confidence in their outfield depth to trade Hunter Pence this summer.
- An agent predicts Cole Hamels will sign a monster free agent contract this coming offseason and Rosenthal says the Phillies won’t go near $150MM for six years or $175MM for seven years.
- Rival teams frequently ask about Darwin Barney and it’s possible the Cubs will trade the second baseman.
- The Orioles seem to have the most interest in trading for Diamondbacks left-hander Joe Saunders, Rosenthal reports.
- The Orioles’ Triple-A team, which includes Miguel Tejada, Jamie Moyer and Dontrelle Willis, tops the Orioles’ MLB team in career earnings, Rosenthal notes.
- One executive suggested a growing number of teams could request 72-hour windows to negotiate extensions with trade targets this summer because of the provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that prevents teams from obtaining draft pick compensation for players acquired midseason. However, players wouldn’t necessarily be interested in signing and it’d cost teams time and leverage.
Two of the NL West's biggest stars were sidelined today as Matt Kemp (left hamstring strain) and Troy Tulowitzki (strained left groin) were both placed on the 15-day disabled list. It's a particularly tough blow for Kemp, who had just returned on Tuesday from a DL stint due to the same injury.
Some other news from around the division....
- With the Diamondbacks making a $60MM commitment to Miguel Montero, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic looks at that deal's long-term impact on the Snakes' payroll.
- The Giants look like the clear winners of their offseason trades for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Jonathan Sanchez and Andres Torres (who were sent to the Royals and Mets, respectively, in those trades) have both struggled, while Pagan and Cabrera have helped anchor the Giants' lineup.
- "I never think about that," Cabrera told MLB.com's Chris Haft and Jay Lee in regards to a possible in-season extension. "I leave that to my agents. They're they ones who know. I never think about contracts, just about staying focused on baseball." ESPN's Buster Olney reported earlier today that the two sides hadn't made progress on a new contract. Earlier this month, I examined what a possible Cabrera extension could cost the Giants.
- The Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers are among the teams interested in Kevin Youkilis, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Los Angeles might be the most intriguing of these three, as the Dodgers are looking for position player help and would be the most able to absorb Youkilis' salary thanks to their new ownership group. The Phillies and Indians have also been scouting the Red Sox infielder, while the Reds don't seem interested.
Links for Thursday, as we await a particularly light schedule of games...
- Melky Cabrera and the Giants haven’t made progress toward a long-term deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if the Blue Jays could trade Yunel Escobar when prospect Adeiny Hechavarria gets the call to the Major Leagues. The A’s, Mariners and Pirates could be positioned to trade pitching for Escobar, Morosi writes. Personally, I doubt the Blue Jays trade Escobar in the near future.
- Houston GM Jeff Luhnow told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that it'll take more than one draft to add talent throughout the Astros organization. "I feel like there's a lot of pressure to do it in one draft," Luhnow said. "That's not going to happen." The Astros have the first overall selection on Monday.
- Any bonus that exceeds $100K counts against a team’s bonus limit, even if it goes to a non-drafted free agent, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweets.
The 27-23 Yankees sit in third place in the American League East and the 28-23 Mets occupy third place in the National League East. Here's the latest from New York on an off day for the city's two teams...
- Baseball officials are skeptical that Melky Cabrera can sustain his performance as an elite player, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. However, there’s no denying that Cabrera has played at an All-Star level since the 2011 season. “He has turned into one of the better hitters in the league,” Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said. Sherman chronicles Cabrera’s journey from extra outfielder in New York to middle-of-the-order hitter in San Francisco.
- Sherman suggests the budget conscious Yankees will probably not sign Cabrera or Nick Swisher when the switch-hitting outfielders hit free agency after the season.
- Ken Davidoff of the New York Post offers a template for how the Mets can handle David Wright’s contract status in the coming months and years. Davidoff suggests the Mets offer Wright an extension later this year -- maybe $115MM for six years -- and exercise their 2013 club option if he declines to sign. The Mets could then listen to trade offers for the third baseman and make a deal if an exceptional offer emerged. Though the Mets can’t control the result of their discussions with Wright, they can manage the process, Davidoff writes.
Giants General Manager Brian Sabean said that the "stars would have to align" for the club to extend Melky Cabrera during the season, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter). However, the GM wouldn't completely rule out the possibility either.
Cabrera, 27, recently told reporters that he's happy playing in San Francisco and could be open to mid-season contract talks. The outfielder is enjoying a strong start to the 2012 season, hitting .363/.409/.542 with three homers through 46 games.
The Giants already have $80MM committed to next year's payroll and with possible extensions for Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey looming, the club may not have a great deal of room to retain Cabrera. When and if the club sits down with Cabrera to hammer out a new deal, Sabean doesn't expect Adam Jones' impending six-year, $85MM extension to impact talks, Baggarly tweets.
Items out of the National League West..
- Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes isn't afraid to buy out a contract when he feels that it's in the team's best interests, writes Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Releasing Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson would cost roughly $10.5MM in guaranteed salary but it's significantly less than what he paid to part ways with Russ Ortiz as GM of the Diamondbacks.
- Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wonders if Tony Gwynn could be a part of the Padres' next ownership group. Acee writes that any group involving Mr. Padre would have an easy time winning over the team's fanbase.
- Melky Cabrera told reporters, including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, that he loves playing in San Francisco and could be open to mid-season contract extension talks. Yesterday, Mark Polishuk looked at what it might take for the Giants to lock up Cabrera.
Even though Melky Cabrera enjoyed a surprisingly productive 2011 campaign, it's safe to say that the outfielder has been a surprise this season as well, as few (outside of the Giants front office, that is) expected Cabrera to top himself.
Cabrera broke out with a .305/.339/.470 slash line with the Royals last year, a performance that moved the Giants to acquire him in exchange for a promising young left-hander in Jonathan Sanchez. It seemed like a risky deal at the time given that Cabrera had just one quality season under his belt, but while Sanchez has struggled in Kansas City, Cabrera has excelled in his return to the National League. Cabrera carried a .338/.386/.490 line into Tuesday's action and his hot bat has been a blessing for a San Francisco lineup that was struggling to score runs even before Pablo Sandoval's hand injury.
Giants GM Brian Sabean told Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle that the team was open to discussing a contract extension with Cabrera. The club usually prefers to not negotiate during the season but, with Cabrera scheduled to hit free agency after this season, the Giants could get a head start on locking up the outfielder before he reaches the open market. For his part, Cabrera has said he enjoys playing in San Francisco, so appears to be some interest on both sides to get a deal done.
Cabrera avoided arbitration for the third time by signing a $6MM contract with the Giants in January -- a nice step up from the $1.25MM free agent deal he signed with the Royals after being non-tendered by the Braves following the 2010 season. Cabrera is a unique case when it comes to comparables, as shown by a quick look at the MLBTR Extension Tracker. The ACES client turns 28 in August, will have over six years of service time once this season is complete and, of course, has just one above-average Major League season to his credit plus what he's done thus far in 2012.
Cabrera has a .376 BABIP, which is a sign that his numbers are soon due to come down to earth. It might be a wise move for the Giants to wait out the season to make sure Cabrera can keep hitting, as while waiting might cost the team a few extra dollars to re-sign him in the offseason, they'd have more peace of mind that they're making a solid investment.
If the Giants were to jump the gun and extend Cabrera now, something like a three-year/$24MM contract would be fair for both sides. If the Giants wait and Cabrera still has an .876 OPS by season's end, his price tag will rise to the $9-$10MM per season range on the open market. It seems expensive given Cabrera's spotty career history but, given how big bats are becoming hard to find in free agency, several teams will show interest in a corner outfielder in his prime years who managed big numbers in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently pointed out in his look at the Giants' 2013 contract issues, the team has already committed $80MM to next year's payroll. The Giants are also looking to extend Tim Lincecum and may look into an extension for Buster Posey to cover their franchise catcher's arbitration years, so there might be relatively little money left over to extend Cabrera as well. This could be an added reason for the team to move now and sign Cabrera at more of a bargain price, but since this is also the team that has spent unwisely on several veterans (i.e. Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff, Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa), a bit of caution could be prudent.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.