Melky Cabrera’s versatility an asset for the White Sox


Sep 3, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) looks on from the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Critics around baseball have all praised the Chicago White Sox and their offseason moves this winter. There were needs in the rotation, bullpen and everyday lineup, and general manager Rick Hahn added talent at all three levels.

Sep 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) delivers to the Texas Rangers during a baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

When asking the question of which move was the best by the White Sox this offseason, the typical answer is either Jeff Samardzija or David Robertson.

The White Sox are loaded with left-handers in the rotation and were in need of not only a right-hander, but someone who could be a legitimate number two to Chris Sale. Not only is that now here with Samardzija, but it didn’t cost them any long-term money or top level prospects.

I have been one of the loudest voices to anyone that would listen when it comes to the White Sox bullpen from the beginning of last season to today. Robertson gives you a reliable arm in the ninth inning and also allows the left over arms to fall accordingly into lesser roles which is the first step to future success.

Both moves were exceptional but neither was my favorite. My favorite move … that would be the signing outfielder Melky Cabrera to a three-year, $42 million deal.

Here’s why.

Financially there are issues when it comes to Samardzija and Robertson.

Unless the White Sox and Samardzija agree to an extension, they are only guaranteed to have him for 2015. No matter how much he likes Chicago, he would be an idiot not to test free agency.

Just like you and me, both Samardzija and his agent saw Jon Lester get $155 million and Max Scherzer get $210 million in the open market. If he continues to pitch like he has the last two years, he is set for a huge payday. Figures like that are certainly out of the White Sox price range.

The last reliever to be paid like Robertson (four years, $46 million) was Jonathan Papelbon (four years, $50 million) in ’12. In ’13 Papelbon blew seven saves and the Philadelphia Phillies have been trying to trade him ever since, with no takers. I’m not questioning whether Robertson will be worth the money, but there is a reason relievers don’t get four year deals. They are replaceable.

Why commit big money long term when you can find a failed starter in the minors, limit him to one inning, watch him flourish for a few years, let another team pay him and repeat the process?

Next: How excited are you for spring training?

Don’t know of any starters turned closers? How about Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Glen Perkins, Trevor Rosenthal and even Mr. Papelbon himself just to name a few. Pretty good company right?

Financially the move is perfect for Cabrera.

He will enter the ’15 season still in the prime of his career at age 30. You see so many bad contracts around baseball where guys get signed for five, six and sometimes 10 years, knowing that they aren’t going to produce throughout the deal. With a deal that expires at age 33, the isn’t much doubt that Cabrera will be productive throughout the entirety of his contract.

Cabrera has the ability to hit for both average and power, evident by his .301 average and 16 home runs in ’14. He also switch-hits, has only struck out more than 68 times in a season once, and has had 13 or more outfield assists in a season four times (including last season). In Cabrera, the White Sox have a guy who can effect the game in many ways.

His skill set is exactly what the team needs in the No. 2 spot in the order. His ability to get on base and hit with runners on is perfect for advancing Adam Eaton and giving Jose Abreu more runs to drive in.

Cabrera has also had great success in his career leading off and hitting third which gives manager Robin Ventura options if either Eaton and Abreu ever go down (both spent time on the DL last season).

Another player who has shown a history of injuries is Avisail Garcia. The White Sox are counting on him to deliver as a run producer behind behind Abreu and Adam LaRoche. If ’15 is yet another season in which Garcia misses time, Cabrera would be on the top of my list to hit fifth. Alexei Ramirez hit second for most of last season and I’d rather have him there than hitting fifth.

There isn’t one negative to bringing in Cabrera. He makes the White Sox a better team and can fill multiple roles. His consistency is sure to make him a fan favorite on the South Side this season.