First, a little bio info on the Mets starting shortstop.
Cabrera came out of Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela and was signed by the Seattle Mariners as a 16-year old in 2002. He originally played second base (really?) and never made it to Seattle. Instead, he was traded in 2006 to Cleveland for Eduardo Perez.
From 2007 through 2015, Cabrera played for the Indians, Washington, and Tampa Bay. He signed a 2-year contract with the Mets before the 2016 season, which includes an option for 2018.
Christopher Soto, of Mack's Mets, says -
If you haven't done so already....stand up, take your caps off, and tip them to Sandy Alderson for this incredible diamond he found in the rough. Cabby was an incredible value signing who posted career best numbers in 2017. In fact, he probably could have had a legitimate shot at being even better were is not for a nagging quadricep injury that he fought through for final 2 months of the season.
At the time of the signing, the biggest knack against Asdrubal Cabrera was his defense.
"Cabrera has never rated particularly well as a shortstop in the eyes of defensive metrics or in the general consensus of scouts" according to MLBTR.
Sometimes though, you need to dig deeper than just the general stats. Asdrubal Cabrera displayed soft hands and an excellent ability to turn the double play with his fellow newcomer, Neil Walker. Cabby's always been able to do that though....what hurts his defensive metrics is his limited which ***NEWS FLASH*** actually got worse in 2017 as he only reached 73% of balls hit into the "Shortstop's Zone."
This is a new age of baseball though. Today's modernized game has incorporated more positional shifts than ever before and Cabby benefited greatly from that. In 2017 he made 49 plays considered "Out of the Zone" which helped turn his limited range into a league average defender. Granted.....this is still a FAR cry from the numbers put up by defensive wizards such as Francisco Lindor (114 OOZ plays)
If Cabby can continue to hit like he did in 2016 and maintain his league average defense, he with continue to be an extremely valuable asset for the Mets and may even garner himself a spot on the 2018 team as a mentor for Amed Rosario.
Reese Kaplan, of Mack’s Mets, added –
People who have taken issue with Sandy Alderson’s judgment when it comes to acquiring players to help the club owe the man a tip of the cap for having the foresight to sign Asdrubal Cabrera.
I confess at the time that I was not sure exactly what he’d hoped to accomplish with the signing. After all, Wilmer Flores just came off a 16 HR/59 RBI season in less than 500 ABs. Granted,his range at SS was pretty pathetic, but as bad as he was defensively, he actually was better than Cabrera was in his last season with Tampa. As Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up!
Offensively, Cabrera had his one standout season in 2011 when he hit 29 HRs and drove in 92 but that was clearly an outlier as he never approached these totals again. Without that one standout season he was good for 17 HRs, 72 RBIs and batted .255 over a 162 game season for the period 2012 to 2015. Wouldn’t Flores be able to provide that much for near minimum wage? I was questioning the thinking for a team forever crying poverty if they had allocated their budget appropriately.
Well, crow is a dish best served roasted and salted. I was completely wrong. In fact, more than once I called him arguably the MVP of the Mets 2016 season as he helped anchor the infield defensively while putting together his best offensive production since that All Star effort in 2011 while playing his home games in a park that’s often challenging to hitters. If not for some injuries he could have approached the HR total, though his RBIs suffered a bit as he was never put into that position in the batting order, more customarily hitting 7th.
His outlook for 2018 is interesting because the Mets have a great many options. First of all, his contract option would pay him $8.5 million. Even if he regresses a bit, that’s a fair price for what he delivers. It would cost $2 million to part ways and I can’t see that happening unless injuries and age take a surprising and significant toll.
With uber-prospect Amed Rosario knocking at the door, they may decide to let the much more expensive Neil Walker depart but keep Cabrera around to man 2B where he’s played over 200 games already. That way he could help mentor Rosario in the nuances of playing SS at the major league level. (Theoretically they could play him at 3B should David Wright retire, but he has had almost no experience there).
The other way I could see things unfolding is Rosario punishing the PCL for half a year and Sandy Alderson working the phones to try to obtain quality for Cabrera since he still has Jose Reyes as a backup plan. Given his very reasonable price this year and option next year, he’ll be a much easier sell than Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson.
Opinion - I like this guy... and I'm not ready to give up on him past the 2017 season.
You know me as a blogger. I have always loved blogging about the kids in the pipeline, but when it comes to my team in Queens, I want seasoned veterans at each position.
The Mets really don't have a true second baseman in the pipeline to play in 2018 and, if Cabrera puts up the same kind of numbers this upcoming season that he did in 2016, I say keep it going, opt for the opt, and move him over to second. The key is whether he has the same season in 2017 as he did in 2016.
If not, move aside for Gavin Cecchini.