Minnesota Twins free agent profile: Melky Cabrera

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Melky Cabrera
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 27: Melky Cabrera /

The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could the Twins be targeting in the free agent market to improve their lineup?

Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’re going to examine individual players that the Minnesota Twins could have interest in this offseason through free agency.

We will not have any specific order to which player we highlight in this series, but we will look at each player’s past history, why he would be a good fit for the Minnesota Twins, and, last, the sort of contract likely to be required to sign the player.

Next up in the series is a veteran outfielder that the Twins have seen plenty over the years…

Melky Cabrera, OF

Cabrera started his 2017 campaign with the division rival Chicago White Sox. Mid-season, as the Kansas City Royals tried to bolster their roster to make a run at the playoffs he took his talents to Kansas City in an inter-division trade. Between the two teams, Cabrera had a solid offensive season as he hit .285/.324/.423 with 17 home runs and 30 doubles.

As a switch-hitter, Cabrera has also shown the ability to hit evenly from both sides of the plate. In 2017 Cabrera provided a little extra power as a right-handed hitter than as a left-handed hitter. Over his career, it has been the reverse concerning Cabrera’s overall numbers, as he has been a slightly better hitter from the left side of the plate but still a solid contributor as a right-hander. He has hit .277/.328/.411 from the right side of the plate over his career.

How he would fit

As a switch hitter who hits well from either side of the plate, he can fill the need for a right-handed bat that the Twins need. As an outfielder, he can fill in for either corner outfield position if Eddie Rosario or Max Kepler need to sit. Kepler hit for a dreadful .152 average against left-handed pitching in 2017 and while Kepler saw an improvement in his ability to hit lefties the Twins are likely looking for some insurance in those situations. Cabrera’s .285 average would provide quite an upgrade for an already good Twins offense. He doesn’t have the power package that would be really good for the Twins from a right-handed bat that they add but might have just enough to give the Twins a boost.

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A concern may be Cabrera’s defense at this stage in his career. A quick look at his WAR reveals that Cabrera held a defensive WAR of -1.3 and he has been trending that way for quite a while. That isn’t great, but with the prospect of Byron Buxton flanking Cabrera in Minnesota, it makes it palatable if he is able to hit. Neither Kepler (0.1 dWAR) or Rosario (-1.6 dWAR) held great defensive numbers either this past season.

Contract Demands

Cabrera is coming off of a season in which he banked $15 million. He is not worth that much any longer, and he will not receive that sort of contract offer this offseason. He will likely be looking to sign a 1-year deal in the $5 million range at best. That seems to be the going rate for a veteran hitter at this point. If I were negotiating with him I would try to get him to sign for less than that.

Next: Twins free agent profile: Mike Napoli

Should the Twins do it?

As the Twins offseason unfolds, there likely are other bats that rank ahead of Cabrera on the Twins wish list. If they missed on some of them like Mike Napoli and ended up with Cabrera as their remaining option I think the Twins should go for it. If Cabrera is willing to take on the role as a veteran, bench bat he fits several of the needs the Twins have at this point and they wouldn’t have to break the bank to get him either.