Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Should We Have the Melk-Man Delivered?

The rumour mill (or in this case The Oakland Press' Matthew Mowery) reported a 'real' interest on the part of the Tigers for free agent Melky Cabrera. Cabrera has most recently been playing in HomerDome North, where the Blue Jays take flight.

By now, the pattern should be familiar. Out comes the Brock2 projection spreadsheet, and in goes the data. However, I would like to briefly digress to take a look at the pattern of Cabrera's career.

Through age 25 (2010), Melky's career slash line was .267/.328/.379. He had mostly been a CF for the Yankees up to then, with his most recent season being at all three outfield positions for the Braves. From age 26 through age 29, he has a slash line of .309/.351/.458. It's not surprising for a player to peak at this period, but that is quite a jump, adding 42 points of BA, 23 points of OBP and 79 points of slugging. He brings doubles power, rather than home-run power. Brock2 suggests his walk rate is going to improve noticeably over the next four years, with his doubles power staying about the same. We've probably seen the best of his home-run hitting. This is a player who was suspended for violating Major League Baseball's policy on doping.

His Runs Created over the next four years are 58, 78, 66 and 72. Not the greatest for a corner outfielder, but there is definitely a spot for production like that where Tigers' outfield corner positions are concerned. He would likely be a noticeable upgrade over Torii Hunter's hitting production, and thus would improve the Tigers' lineup straightaway.

The stumbling block is money. Beyond the Box Score's free agency calculator suggests an annual average value of around $9 million, which is not a great improvement on his last contract, for which Toronto paid him $8 million.

That said, Melky potentially offers a long-term (four-year) fix of a fielding position, and is not coming off a career year. If I'm going to overpay for 274 runs created over the next four years, I think I would rather do it for a left-fielder than a DH.

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