As his Giants look to wrap up a World Series sweep tonight without him, many within baseball are already speculating where Melky Cabrera will end up. Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that the Giants, Mets, Yankees, and Phillies are among the likely destinations for the much-maligned center fielder. The big questions are: how much, how long, and which Cabrera will the winning bidder get.
Sherman speculates that Cabrera may be out of the Mets’ price range and may not receive as much playing time that he needs to enhance his value with the Yankees, leaving the Giants, who Sherman says officials have privately conceded their interest, and the Phillies as teams who would be among the most likely suitors.
One of the most frustrating aspects of possibly signing Cabrera, aside from him abandoning the Giants and creating a fake website to tout his innocence, even at a much discounted rate of between $2-8 million per year as cited in the Sherman piece, is that Cabrera has had wildly inconsistent seasons. Cabrera, a career .284/.338/.414 hitter, hit .346/.390/.516 this year with the assistance of performance enhancing drugs but as recently as 2010 was an overweight, out-of-shape outfielder who was replaced down the stretch in Atlanta, hitting .255/.317/.354.
Cabrera would undoubtedly be an asset and an upgrade over John Mayberry in center, even at his presumed pre-steroid 2009 or 2011 levels (.274/.336/.416 and .305/.339/.470) but his inconsistencies and character issues (see: establishing fake website, walking out without explanation on his team) are something the Phillies should avoid. Sherman notes that scouts had labeled Cabrera as an extra outfielder in his time in the minors and for his first few seasons with the Yankees (-0.4, 1.7, 0.5, 0.2, and 1.6 WAR), the numbers bore that out.
Opinion: If I were the Phillies, I would avoid unless Cabrera is still available in January as a scrap-pile type pick-up and the Phillies have not yet picked up suitable outfield help. I don’t think Michael Bourn or Josh Hamilton are the answer, but I think B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino could be had for the right price and help the Phillies compete for the next few seasons in center. Cabrera would be a nice extra outfielder, or the emergency January answer in center, but the Phillies are already loaded with extra-outfielders (Mayberry, Laynce Nix, and non-tender candidate Nate Schierholtz) and he likely does not make sense for the Phils.