Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays make a huge off-season splash, acquiring several players from the Miami Marlins, including Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Toronto's front office continued their busy off-season theme, by signing free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to $16 million, two-year deal (first reported by ESPN Deportes).
Hot Stove: Toronto Signs Melky Cabrera
Friday November 16th, 2012
The 2012 MLB All-Star Game MVP finished the 2012 season with a .295/.348/.432 slash-line, including a career high 4.6 fWAR (Fangraphs.com Wins Above Replacement). He appeared in just 113 games last season with the San Francisco Giants, thanks to a 50-game suspension.
The 28-year-old switch-hitting outfielder has posted terrific numbers since the 2011 season (Kansas City Royals in 2011) - compiling a total of 8.8 fWAR and 184 wRC (Weighted Runs Created). However, his numbers prior to the 2011 season haven't been great, posting a combined 2.5 fWAR from 2005 to 2010, including an awful 2010 season for the Atlanta Braves, producing a negative 1.1 fWAR.
The contract for $16 million ($8 million per year) is a great bargain for the Blue Jays when you dig deeper. Looking at Fangraphs Dollar Value, Cabrera would have generated (based strictly on his WAR numbers from the 2011 and 2012 seasons) - easily (if not double) the worth of the $16 million, two-year deal with Toronto. To put in easier terms, many baseball writers have said that a win on the free agent market is worth approximately $5 million - Even if Cabrera generates a WAR of approximately 2 each season - that's still a value of close to $10 million or more. The Blue Jays got a steal with the contract.
From Toronto's perspective, it gives the team a true number two hitter. Prior to the Cabrera signing, the team was likely to use Emilio Bonifacio in the two slot, but Bonifacio can now be moved near the bottom of the lineup.
Here's a very rough guess at how an everyday lineup could look for the Blue Jays on 2013 Opening Day:
On paper, that looks like a very scary lineup. Toronto could also find new homes via trade for J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus, allowing prospects Travis d' Arnaud and Anthony Gose to play every day. They could also use an upgrade at first base, likely moving aging veteran Adam Lind to the bench or to another city via trade. The nameless manager will also have the option to use utility infielder Maicer Izturis at second base if Bonifacio needs a break from playing.
Obviously there are still questions about the pitching staff (health, performance, etc) - but the Blue Jays' moves this off-season show that the team is ready to make their first playoff-push since their 1993 World Series Championship. With the American League East remaining one of the tougher divisions in all of baseball, the Blue Jays certainly have done their part this off-season in order to hopefully acquire as many wins as possible.
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