Ken Rosenthal from the Athletic is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed outfielder Melky Cabrera as a minor league free agent with an invite to Major League Spring Training, which begins in three days.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 10, 2019
Jon Heyman notes that he could make up to $2 M with his incentives.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 10, 2019
The 34-year-old Cabrera spent 2018 with the Cleveland Indians, where he split some outfield time with Lonnie Chisenhall. That is likely to continue with those two this year with the Pirates.
In 78 games last year, Cabrera hit .280/.335/.420. He had a slightly lower OPS (.746) seeing full-time action in 2017, splitting the season between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. According to Baseball-Reference, he was a -0.3 WAR in 2017 and 0.0 WAR in 2018. That was mostly due to poor defense, while splitting his time between left field and right field. As a hitter, he put up a 2.3 WAR combined over the last two seasons. That would seem like his best usage would be as a pinch-hitter, but he has performed very poorly in his career in that role, going 6-for-41 with six singles.
UPDATE: Pirates make the deal official
Today we officially agreed to terms on a minor league contract with outfielder Melky Cabrera, which includes an invitation to big league camp.
Cabrera hit .280 (70-for-250) with 17 doubles, 6 HRs and 39 RBI in 78 games with the Indians last season. pic.twitter.com/4RMFjq8zld
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) February 11, 2019