28-year-old shortstop Everth Cabrera became a free agent earlier this month, as the Padres elected not to tender him a contract for 2015. Cabrera had been arrested in September for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. In November, the San Diego County district attorney’s office charged him with resisting arrest during that traffic stop. He plead not guilty on that charge last week, and a readiness hearing will happen in mid-January.
How does agent Scott Boras market Cabrera to MLB teams, given the looming situation? “With every negotiation you have complete disclosure, you walk through the factual situations,” Boras told me today at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Boras explained, “I think we all know that players get involved in situations where they might have made a mistake and done things. You talk to teams about the player’s history, his character, where he’s going in the future. So it’s really a due diligence dynamic with Everth.” Boras feels that the public’s perception of the incident differs from reality.
Certainly, there’s great risk in signing a free agent who could potentially face jail time if found guilty. A team will have to buy into Cabrera’s upside despite that concern. Boras made his pitch: “Everth Cabrera is a very talented player, so there’s that tweak in there [that makes you say] ’Hey, if this guy could give you All-Star talent and I’m able to get him at a shorter term and a very young age, this guy could really have a big season.'”
Cabrera made the All-Star team with a strong first half in 2013.
Since Cabrera has four years and 144 days of Major League service time, a team that signs him this winter could potentially control him for 2016 through the arbitration process. The teams currently showing interest may have some kind of familiarity with Cabrera, as Boras said, “The people that are coming after him know him well, so they have to have the comfort level. They know this is an isolated issue, and they know his talent too.”
Cabrera was initially signed out of Nicaragua by Rockies scouts Rolando Fernandez and Francisco Cartaya. Fernandez is still employed by the Rockies, while Cartaya is with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also employ Josh Byrnes, who was in charge when Cabrera earned his All-Star nod. Kevin Towers, now with the Reds, was Padres GM when the team signed Cabrera, while current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer succeeded Towers.
Cabrera may not be in a position to demand more than $2-4MM, nor a starting shortstop job. He’s spent little time outside of shortstop in the Majors, but did log some games at second early in his pro career. Of the teams linked above, the Rockies could consider Cabrera to back up Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu if they trade Josh Rutledge. The Dodgers turned over their middle infield today, acquiring shortstop Jimmy Rollins and sending starting second baseman Dee Gordon to the Marlins. The Cubs aren’t hurting for middle infield options, while the Reds have Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips, and Kristopher Negron and could do some middle infield shuffling.
Cabrera has not actually been linked to any teams so far, except for Adam Rubin’s note for ESPNNewYork.com ruling out the Mets. It should be noted, too, that Cabrera missed significant time with hamstring injuries in the last few years and missed significant time prior to 2012 with other injuries. On top of that, he served a 50-game PED suspension in 2013. Clearly the teams that mine this well for talent have many issues to consider, but that’s also what will keep Cabrera’s price down.