The Oakland Athletics are still among the teams interested in free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman mentions that Cabrera can also also play second and third in addition to shortstop, and reports that the Giants, Mets, Cardinals and Twins are also in the mix.
Billy Beane has so far spent his offseason selling high on his best players in order to make his roster younger, and in the process he's picked up a couple of infielders in Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien, and Joey Wendle. Lawrie and Semien are expected to replace the departed Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie on the left side of the infield, but Wendle will likely start 2015 in the minors. Meanwhile, the incumbent second base platoon of Eric Sogard and Nick Punto is underwhelming.
However, Beane also saved quite a bit of money in those trades and has suggested that it can be spent elsewhere if the right opportunity arises. After failing to adequately address the middle infield last season, it could make sense to bite the bullet and pay up for a veteran free agent. Cabrera could share the load at shortstop with Semien, or he could replace Sogunto at second, plus he could serve as insurance at third in case of an injury to fragile the Lawrie. Our own Billy Frijoles took a look at Cabrera in November, although a lot has changed since this was written.
For an idea of how much Cabrera might cost, Jed Lowrie recently signed with Houston for 3/$23M. Cabrera just turned 29, whereas Lowrie will turn 31 at the beginning of next season. They are both switch-hitters who posted slightly below-average batting lines last year, who aspire to fake it defensively in the middle infield, and who are prone to getting banged up and missing some games here and there. I'd imagine Cabrera will get a similar deal to Lowrie, but maybe a little more. If the market gets heated enough, perhaps he could even earn himself a fourth year, but if I had to guess now I'd say he'll get three years.
As for the stats, Cabrera established his power by hitting 25 homers in 2011, though he's settled in between 14-16 each year since. He's been in the .240/.300/.400 range the last two seasons, which earned him an OPS+ of 96 both years. He used to be a pretty good contact hitter, but he's been swinging and missing more in recent campaigns. Advanced metrics dislike his defense at both shortstop and second to a fairly high degree. He was once a 3-win player, if not better, but his ceiling is probably 1-2 wins at this point unless his bat makes a huge comeback -- his glove will likely never be a strength again. He was valued at 0.9 bWAR and 1.7 fWAR in 2014.
So, what do you think? We debated this last month, but everything is different now. With the new roster and some serious money to spend, is this where you want to spend it? Would Asdrubal make the A's better in 2015 and beyond? Or would you rather stick with Sogunto, and either wait on the farm to produce a replacement or hope that a better plan comes along via trade?
giants, a's, mets, cards, twins among teams to show interest in asdrubal cabrera, who could play 3b or 2b as well as ss— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2014
Susan Slusser sees things differently, though.
I'd be pretty surprised if the #Athletics have interest in Asdrubal Cabrera now, they never have in the past when potentially available.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 17, 2014
It doesn't mean it's impossible, but Cabrera is not a player the #Athletics have targeted in previous years even with needs at that spot.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 17, 2014