It was announced late Monday night that the Cleveland Indians have brought in Melky Cabrera on a minor league deal.
The Cleveland Indians outfield depth has been tested early on this season. With Michael Brantley starting the season on the disabled list and Lonnie Chisenhall on the shelf right now, the team could use some extra players.
Cabrera finished last season with the division rival Kansas City Royals. In 2017 Cabrera hit .269/.324/.423 with 17 homers and 85 RBIs. That’s a pretty decent line of production, and it’s honestly a little weird that he wasn’t signed until now. We wrote back in February that he would make sense as a free agent addition.
Of course, last offseason was certainly an unusual one in which many quality big league players went a long time without being signed. But over his career Cabrera has been a consistently productive hitter. He’s not going to set the world on fire like he did in 2012 with the Giants, but he’ll hit around .280 or .290 with somewhere between 12-18 home runs in a season. It’s not flashy but it’s valuable.
What will Indians do with Cabrera?
The plan right now is to send Cabrera to extended spring training. He wasn’t able to get a real spring training since he was still a free agent so he’s going to need a little bit of time to get ready for big league games.
Will he join the big league club soon?
Once Cabrera has done everything he needs to do at extended spring training the Cleveland Indians can either keep him in Triple-A or bring him up to the active roster. Since he’s on a minor league deal they can put him with Columbus and not have to worry about anything.
But this guy has been a big league hitter for a long time and keeping a bat like that in the minor leagues is a luxury that the Cleveland Indians might not be able to afford, especially if the offense continues to sputter.
If the team elects to bring him onto the big league roster, Tyler Naquin appears to be a natural choice to get sent back down to the minor leagues since he’s the only one with options remaining outside of Bradley Zimmer. But Cabrera will need a 40 man roster spot as well since he’s not currently on it.
So players like Brandon Guyer and Rajai Davis are not safe either. If either one is underperforming the Tribe could choose to DFA one of them to make room on both the 40 man and active rosters.
As for the timeline on when the Indians will make this decision, it’s unknown at this time. Maybe Cabrera will only need a week in extended spring training or maybe he’ll need three weeks. Time will tell, but this appears to be a great acquisition of a valuable major league player for a very modest price.
The Cleveland Indians outfield could have used an upgrade all offseason and Cabrera is going to be that upgrade.