There are two talented players on the market who have substantially hurt their value for non-baseball related issues, Melky Cabrera and Yunel Escobar. With their value at an all-time low, is it worth it for the Cubs to take a flyer and see if they can reestablish themselves or are there too many questions about their mental makeup?
Cabrera, a potential free agent, was caught using PEDs, and then to make it worse, tried to cover it up with a ridiculous ruse. After the plot failed, he became very contrite. Is it too little too late?
Melky Cabrera, 28, was in position to win the batting crown for San Francisco before drawing his 50 game suspension. He was hitting .346/.379/.390 with 11 HRs in 501 PAs at the time. He can play all 3 OF positions but is most effective in the corner spots. The Cubs could play him in CF or move David DeJesus to CF and Cabrera to RF. Cabrera would also be a solid bat to replace Alfonso Soriano should the Cubs find a taker.
The Cubs are building for the long term and Cabrera is still in his peak athletic years and should continue to produce over the next few years, but the guess here may be that Cabrera would sign a one or two year deal to try and recoup value. The Cubs could then decide whether he's a part of their future or whether they should move on with younger players.
What of Yunel Escobar, 29, who wore a homophobic slur on his eye black just this past season? This wasn't the first time there have been concerns about the young SS, Escobar has had all kinds of character questions, starting back when he was with the Braves. Most of them were vague but some questioned his commitment and his work ethic. Despite his talents, Escobar is now on the trading block once again. The Blue Jays, having picked up SS Mike Aviles from Boston as compensation for John Farrrell, are now ready to deal their SS just as is trade value has bottomed out.
While the Cubs are set at SS with Starlin Castro, Escobar can also play 3B and 2B, starting 19 and 20 games respectively, though none since 2007. That's too long ago and the sample size too small to make a definitive judgment on how he'd play there, but the Cubs would more likely use him at 3B unless they were to trade Darwin Barney. Last year was an off year for Escobar (.253/.300/.344), further diminishing his value, but he was 4.3 WAR player (albeit at SS) in 2011 when he hit .290/.369/.413 with 11 HRs. Even with the position change he would be a significant upgrade over incumbent Luis Valbuena. Moreover, Escobar's defense is excellent at SS and should probably carry over to 3B. And lastly, the contract is friendly. Escobar is on the last guaranteed year of a 2 year/$10M contract and then there are two $5M/yr team options for both 2014 and 2015. His ability to play a good defensive SS and that low, team friendly contract could make him a valuable trade chip if he rebounds.
There is no question each player would upgrade the talent on the 2013 team. The Cubs could do the usual PR spin and give the "we've talked to the player and they understand it was a mistake, and we feel confident there should be no issues going forward" spiel. Both players are in their prime. Both players are talented. But both have concerns about their character. On a team that prides itself on building with players with good mental makeup, is it worth the gamble?
Filed under: polls