By now, we’ve likely all been made aware of the story: Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone, a banned substance under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Policy. After his punishment was announced, the San Francisco Giants outfielder left his team without so much as a note saying he was sorry. According to the narrative, this act of cowardice from Cabrera drew the team together and solidified their drive to a division championship.

Now, with the Giants having clinched first place in the National League West, the team has guaranteed itself entrance into one of the two National League Division Series. This brings us to the second part of the Melky Cabrera suspension story: He’s eligible to play in the playoffs after his team has completed five games.

As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs notes:

If the Giants’ Division Series goes the full five games, Cabrera would be eligible for the team’s Championship Series roster. In fact, the Joint Drug Policy (Section 7. I.) requires the Giants to reinstate Cabrera from the Restricted List “immediately at the conclusion of the specified period of ineligibility” — meaning the Giants must add Cabrera to their 40-man roster.

Adding Cabrera to the 40-man roster is one thing, but adding him to the playoff roster is quite another. Andrew Baggarly of Comcast Sportsnet, who broke the story about Cabrera being ruled ineligible for the batting title,  has heard rumblings from the front office that San Francisco might not be interested in using the unofficial batting champion for their playoff run.

The Giants are not keen on bringing back Cabrera for the postseason, citing the distraction factor as well as his questionable readiness following a 50-game ban.

That’s not to mention the whole leaving of his teammates for the remainder of the season without an explanation.

Despite this, San Francisco reliever Sergio Romo was positive about the prospect of Cabrera’s return in a way that goes beyond a baseball player merely saying what a baseball player is supposed to say when he was asked by Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio how he would be received if and when he is eligible to come back.

He is on our team. He started the season on our team. He is a San Francisco Giant. So, in my eyes when he’s able to come back, why wouldn’t we want him to come back? Look at the ability. Look at the talent that he has. Imagine how much better he can make us on the field. Through everything, whatever he did, it doesn’t matter. That’s his business, but as far as our business as a team as a whole, when he’s able to come back I definitely expect everyone to welcome him with open arms.

However, Romo is not the man making the decision.




In addition to deciding whether or not to include Cabrera on their post season roster, the Giants will face another decision regarding the player once the season finishes. Will they give Cabrera a qualifying offer that ensures compensation should he sign elsewhere, but also risks him agreeing to a one-year deal worth close to $13 million? This, of course, brings up another question: Would such a deal be team-friendly?

In a vacuum, yes. But for the San Francisco Giants, I really don’t know.

I do believe that any money that Cabrera loses on the free agent market as a banned substance user will not be lost because Major League executives believe his numbers to be less legitimate due to testosterone use, but rather because of their willingness to use the optics that the suspension provide as  leverage that will allow them to pay less money for an equal asset. Certainly, the free agent acquisition of a confirmed cheat doesn’t carry the same public relations sway as landing a batting champion on the free agent market, but there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that Cabrera’s performance enhancing drug use should negatively affect his projections.

Maybe this ends up yielding Cabrera a one year deal worth $13 million with the Giants, which could serve both player – allowing the outfielder to reestablish himself as a legitimate offensive threat without the benefit of banned substances -and team – acquiring the services of an elite player with favorable terms and little risk beyond one year – quite well.