JUNE 13: The Orioles have announced that they’ve released Cabrera, making him a free agent.
JUNE 5: In a flurry of roster moves that includes the activation of catcher Matt Wieters from the disabled list, the Orioles announced that infielder Everth Cabrera has been designated for assignment. Additionally, Steve Clevenger has been optioned to Triple-A along with right-hander Mike Wright. The team has also recalled infielder Rey Navarro from the minors and selected the contract of left-handed reliever Cesar Cabral.
The 28-year-old Cabrera was non-tendered by the Padres this offseason and spent much of the winter seeing his free agent stock weighed down by legal troubles pertaining to charges of resisting arrest after being pulled over by police for suspicion of driving under the influence. Eventually, once it was ruled that Cabrera would not serve any jail time, he signed a one-year, $2.4MM contract with Baltimore.
Cabrera has played both second base and shortstop for the Orioles this season, though most of his experience in the Majors is at short. He batted a mere .208/.250/.229 in 105 plate appearances, however, and his lack of time on base prevented him from taking advantage of his best tool — speed. Cabrera led the NL with 44 steals back in 2012 despite playing in just 115 games, and he swiped 37 bags in 95 games the following year before he was suspended 50 games for ties to the Biogenesis PED scandal. Cabrera stole just two bases while with the Orioles.
Overall, Cabrera is a .246/.315/.328 career hitter, though those numbers are dragged down a bit by the fact that he’s called Petco Park home for nearly his entire career. Park-adjusted metrics such as OPS+ and wRC+ rate him at 17 percent below the league average, which is still not good, but is more acceptable considering his position. (Shortstops, generally speaking, are below-average offensive performers.) Should he land on another team’s big league roster, Cabrera can be controlled for an additional season via arbitration. He entered the years with four years, 144 days of big league service but has already eclipsed the five-year mark with the service time he’s accrued in 2015.
Wieters will rejoin the Orioles’ roster just less than a year removed his 2014 Tommy John surgery, which was performed on June 16 last year. Baltimore hoped to have his bat in the lineup earlier this season, but his return from the surgery has been slow, as Wieters not only needed to build up strength and reestablish his swing mechanics but also needed to be able to confidently and strongly throw to second and third base.
The 29-year-old Wieters will be left with about four months’ worth of plate appearances to show that he is healthy and can be an above-average contributor both at the plate and behind it, as he’s nearing his first venture into the free agent market. A career .257/.320/.423 hitter, Wieters has not developed into the superstar catcher that many expected when he was selected with the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, but he has been a decidedly above-average performer at his position and was enjoying a strong season last year at the time of his injury. In 112 plate appearances in 2014, Wieters batted .308/.339/.500. Wieters inactivity prevented has prevented him from appearing on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, but a strong start to his season could land him on the list in short order, as a switch-hitting catcher with power heading into his age-30 season certainly carries quite a bit of earning power.