Longtime major league outfielder Melky Cabrera announced his retirement this morning (h/t to Héctor Gómez of z 101). Cabrera last appeared in the majors in 2019 but had played winter ball in each of the past two years.
The announcement officially closes the book on Cabrera’s successful big league playing career. He broke into the majors with the Yankees halfway through the 2005 season, getting to the majors a bit before his 21st birthday. The switch-hitter emerged as a regular in the Bronx the following year, playing with the Yankees through their World Series-winning 2009 campaign.
The following offseason, New York traded Cabrera to the Braves. The Dominican Republic native struggled in Atlanta and was released after one year, but he bounced back after hooking on with the Royals the following season. After a solid year in Kansas City, he was traded to the Giants before the 2012 campaign. He’d only spend one year in the Bay Area as well, but that season proved to be the most productive of Cabrera’s career. He hit .346/.390/.516 across 501 plate appearances, earning his only All-Star nod in the process.
Down the stretch, however, Cabrera was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That ban carried over into 2013, where he landed with the Blue Jays after signing a two-year deal over the winter. Cabrera struggled in the first season of that deal but bounced back with a very productive 2014 campaign. He proved a capable, high-contact bat for a good chunk of 30s, suiting up with the White Sox, Royals (for a second time), Indians and Pirates.
Cabrera’s run of productivity came to a close in 2019. Despite hitting .280 that year, his overall offensive output was 16 percentage points below the league average (by measure of wRC+) due to a lack of power and a minuscule 4.3% walk rate. Cabrera briefly caught on with the Mets in 2020 Summer Camp but was cut loose before the start of the season.
Altogether, Cabrera had a lengthy, impressive showing in the big leagues. He appeared in fifteen consecutive MLB seasons from 2005-19, donning the uniforms of eight different clubs. Over a bit more than 7,500 plate appearances, Cabrera hit .285/.334/.417, an overall slash line a hair above average by both wRC+ and OPS+. He hit 144 home runs, 383 doubles, drove in 854 runs and stole 101 bases. FanGraphs valued his career around 16 wins above replacement, while Baseball Reference pegged him around 21 wins. Cabrera tallied a bit more than $72MM in earnings, according to B-Ref. MLBTR congratulates the 37-year-old on a very fine run and wishes him the best in retirement.