SUNDAY: The team expects to know by Monday whether or not Cabrera will accept an outright assignment, according to the Indians’ official Tribe Insider Twitter news feed.
THURSDAY: The Indians announced Thursday that they’ve activated outfielder Brandon Guyer from the disabled list and cleared a spot for him on the active roster by designating Melky Cabrera for assignment.
Signed to a minor league deal in late April, the 33-year-old Cabrera appeared in 17 games with Cleveland and tallied 66 plate appearances, though he managed just a .207/.243/.293 batting line in that small sample of work.
Cabrera, of course, was operating without the benefit of a full Spring Training during his short time with the Indians. While he did pick up 42 plate appearances in Triple-A before making his debut with the team, it’s perhaps not surprising that he exhibited a fair bit of rust at the plate. To his credit, Cabrera posted a 34.6 percent hard-hit rate, per Fangraphs, and punched out just 10 times in his 66 PAs (15.2 percent).
The switch-hitting Cabrera is only a year removed from providing roughly league-average offense at the big league level. In 666 plate appearances between the White Sox and Royals last season, Cabrera slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers, 30 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 99 OPS+ and a 98 wRC+.
While he’s long graded out as a sub-par defensive outfielder — never more so than in 2017 — he’s also been a steadily average or better producer at the plate throughout his late 20s and early 30s. From 2014-17, Cabrera racked up 2616 plate appearances between the Blue Jays, White Sox and Royals, hitting a combined .289/.333/.431 in that time (110 OPS+). So while things didn’t work out for the Melk Man in Cleveland, it’s certainly not out of the question that another team could look to pick him on a similarly low-cost investment with the hopes that he can provide some additional offense.
The Indians will have a week to trade Cabrera or run him through outright or release waivers, though a veteran player with his service time will have the option of refusing an outright assignment and again exploring free agency. He’s better-suited for an AL club who can plug him in at DH periodically, though Cabrera could also function as a bench bat and occasional outfielder in the NL.