4:02pm: New York has announced that it has picked up its options over both Cabrera and lefty Jerry Blevins.
Blevins, 34, was an easy call at a $7MM price tag (with a $1MM buyout). He has turned in consecutive sub-3.00 ERA campaigns for the Mets. In 2017, he ran up 12.7 K/9 (on a career-best 12.7% swinging-strike rate) against 4.4 BB/9 on the season, holding lefties to a miserly .195/.250/.205 slash with his fastball-curve combination. (Alas, Blevins was not so successful against right-handed hitters, who knocked him around for a .288/.447/.545 batting line.)
1:22pm: The Mets are set to exercise their $8.5MM club option over infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman. Reports over the past month have suggested that the team was likely to do so, though there’d yet to be a firm indication that the team had definitively elected to do so. Their alternative was a $2MM buyout, meaning it boiled down to a $6.5MM decision for the Mets.
Cabrera’s option looked fairly likely to be declined late in the season, but a blistering hot finish likely helped to bring about this outcome. As of Aug. 23, the soon-to-be 32-year-old’s OPS sat at a dismal mark of .705. However, over his final 132 plate appearances, Cabrera caught fire and turned in a .366/.435/.607 slash with five homers, a dozen doubles and a 20-to-15 K/BB ratio. The massive uptick in his productivity boosted his season-long production with the bat from 10 percent below average to 11 percent above-average, by measure of wRC+.
The switch-hitting Cabrera also demonstrated his value to the Mets by showing a willingness to play third base in the wake of injuries around the roster. While he didn’t necessarily shine as a top-flight defender, the Mets were reportedly pleased with his aptitude at the new position, and defensive metrics felt he was at least passable there (+1 Defensive Runs Saved, -2.5 Ultimate Zone Rating).
Given the uncertainty surrounding the Mets’ infield mix heading into 2018 — David Wright’s injury status is a complete unknown, while Neil Walker was traded in August and T.J. Rivera underwent Tommy John surgery — Cabrera gives the Mets some stability and some offseason flexibility. The fact that New York likely feels comfortable with Cabrera playing either second base or third base widens the range of targets the team can pursue this winter, rather than forcing GM Sandy Alderson and his staff to zero in solely on a third baseman or a second baseman.