Saint Anthopoulos’ School for Wicked Boys enrols another wayward soul! Enrique Rojas first reported (and is now confirmed by countless other reporters) that Melky Cabrera signs with the Toronto Blue Jays for two years and $16 million dollars. Cabrera missed the final 50 games of the 2012 season after he was suspended for a violation of the league’s drug policy. At the time of his suspension, Cabrera led the National League in batting average, posting career high numbers across the board with the Giants. The switch-hitter becomes the Blue Jays every day left fielder and slots into the number two spot in their batting order.
What are the Jays going to get from Melky Cabrera? His last two seasons are great but how much, if any, of his production comes courtesy of whatever substances he crammed into his veins? Two straight 4 Win seasons are terrific but will fans accept some decline in the face of his suspension?
Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays front office clearly don’t care. They see a “buy low” opportunity on a productive player who comes with some baggage – the kind of baggage they can stomach. Fans in Toronto (or any city) are more than willing to forgive contrite stars as long as they perform like stars.
However Cabrera performs in Toronto it represents a massive upgrade over the parade of not-quite-there prospects and platoon players they’ve trotted out to left field over the last few years. After posting a combined line of .322.360/.489 in two pitchers ballparks over the last two years, some of the projection systems are not quite as kind for Melky in the future. The offensive-minded Bill James system has Melky at .295/.348/.432 next year, though the Rogers Centre might help that some.
Melky Cabrera rode an exceptionally high BABIP to his (near) batting title in 2012. After strong seasons with the Yankees to begin his career, Melky slumped badly in 2010 with the Braves, where many questioned his conditioning and dedication to the game.
After moving to the Royals, Cabrera turned his career around – the one positive test for testosterone casts doubt on everything he accomplished since the dark days in Atlanta. PED whispers never die and once guilty, even if fans forgive, they never forget.
A two-year deal worth the reported $16 million dollars is not a significant outlay of cash for a player coming off consecutive 4 WAR seasons. Even if he was juiced up and his production is, say, 75% of what he gave the Royals and Giants, the Blue Jays are winners.
The Blue Jays have now completely overhauled their roster in the span of a week. Two new rotation arms, an upgraded shortstop and a new starting left fielder, a utility infielder and more switch hitters than you can shake a stick at. How much more money does Alex Anthopoulos have to spend to address the shrinking list of available roster spots? Blue Jays fans might be wondering how many actually remain – a feeling Blue Jays fans do not know well.