1:46pm: Cabrera will earn a guaranteed $1.15MM if he makes the Pirates’ roster and could make $850K in performance bonuses, Jeff Passan of ESPN tweets.
10:13am: The Pirates and outfielder Melky Cabrera have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training, Ken Rosenthal and Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic report. Cabrera will have a chance to earn up to $2MM in the majors, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Cabrera follows major league signing Lonnie Chisenhall and minor league pickups JB Shuck and Patrick Kivlehan as the fourth veteran addition to the Pirates’ outfield this offseason. The 34-year-old Cabrera will have an opportunity to earn a role on a team that will open the season without one of its starting outfielders, Gregory Polanco, who likely won’t return until at least mid-April after undergoing shoulder surgery in September. However, until Polanco comes back, Chisenhall figures to receive the lion’s share of playing time alongside holdovers Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson.
A big league regular throughout most of his career, which began with the Yankees in 2005, the switch-hitting Cabrera settled into a reserve role with the Indians in 2018. Cabrera went to the plate 278 times last year and matched both his lifetime wRC+ (102) and on-base percentage (.335), also posting a .280 batting average, a .420 slugging percentage and six home runs. Along the way, he offered passable production from both sides of the plate while limiting strikeouts – both of which have been staples for Cabrera over his career. On the other side, Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating have each pegged Cabrera as a minus outfielder across his time in the majors, though he nonetheless hasn’t seen much action at DH in AL stints with the Yankees, Royals, Blue Jays, White Sox and Indians.