UPDATE 11:40 AM: Well that didn’t last long. Jon Heyman is reporting that the Rays are close to signing Cabrera, while Ken Rosenthal says that the deal is done pending a physical.
Sources: #Rays in agreement with Asdrubal Cabrera, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 30, 2014
Last night on the MLB Network, Jon Heyman mentioned that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been talking to some teams very serious at this point. Among the teams he listed were the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also mentioned the Yankees, Giants, Blue Jays and Rays, and I’ve read from other sources that the Phillies, Royals and Twins have also expressed interest, so it’s a crowded market for Cabrera.
In 2014, split between the Indians and Nationals, Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 with 14 homers and 31 doubles in 146 games. He’s also known as a solid defensive shortstop, though Baseball-Reference has him as a negative dWAR for the first time in his career in 2013, so the 29-year-old could be losing a step. When he moved over to the Nationals at the trade deadline, Cabrera moved to second base, so he has some versatility.
While the Pirates were mentioned as a possible suitor for him, it doesn’t seem like a good fit. Some of these other teams are looking at Cabrera as a starter, while the possibility that Jung-Ho Kang signs, leaves a crowded infield even more crowded.
There is also the salary issue, with Cabrera making $10M last year. That’s fine for his production as a starter playing everyday, but as a bench option getting approximately 300 plate appearances, he would need to take a substantial pay cut. With as many teams that are showing interest in him, that doesn’t seem likely, especially if he can get a starter role somewhere.
The Pirates may be looking at Cabrera as a possible backup plan if they can’t come to an agreement with Kang. Or the interest they showed may have been prior to them learning they won the negotiating rights for Kang. As of right now, I wouldn’t consider them a front-runner for Cabrera, but the interest was(or is still) there.