Signing Asdrubal Cabrera could be a mistake for the often financially handicapped New York Mets.
By Gregg Cambareri
The New York Mets decided that adding Asdrubal Cabrera was really necessary. After swinging a deal to acquire Neil Walker, the Mets middle infield seemed set for 2016. But no, they felt it was necessary to acquire a player who has -29 defensive runs saved for his career, and hasn’t posted a WAR over 1.7 since 2012.
Cabrera, 30, is much better off at second base at this point in his career, but figures to get the majority of starts at shortstop next season. So, is it really necessary to go out and spend $18.5 million on a player that’s only a marginal upgrade over the combination of Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada?
asdrubal gets a guaranteed $18.5M in mets deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 10, 2015
For as much controversy as there was around the Mets’ shortstop situation last season, their team WAR for the SS position was actually 10th in the league. How much better is Cabrera going to make them?
The power Cabrera brings to the table, Flores is capable of replicating, as they both posted similar homerun totals last season (15 vs 16). Tejada can provide just as good, if not better defense than Cabrera. Both Tejada and Flores combine to make less than half of what Cabrera will next season, so is his addition really an upgrade?
Look, if the Mets are planning on building depth, I get it. Their bench last season was incredibly weak until the late July trades that brought Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe gave them some much more solid options (speaking of, both those players could have, and still might be cheaper alternatives than signing Cabrera). If Flores is going to be the super utility guy, fine. He can handle both middle infield positions, and play a little third if necessary. Obviously, we know he’s not the world’s best defender, but that’s where Tejada has value to this team.
My main concern here is the money. Paying $8.5 million annually over the next two seasons isn’t going to break the bank, but for a team that has maintained a mid tier payroll over the past several seasons, it makes you wonder what else is possible this offseason. Do they have enough money to add another outfielder and a set up man, plus a reunion with Bartolo Colon? Will there be enough payroll flexibility to add a marquee player at the trade deadline like last season? For a team playing in New York, these shouldn’t even be questions.
However, the Wilpons need to show their past financial struggles are behind them. Is having a team in New York with a payroll over $120 million so much to ask? It shouldn’t be, but until it is, many fans will have their doubts.
Asdrubal Cabrera is not a bad player. He’s just not a legitimate upgrade over what’s already in place. Yes, Flores and Tejada are both coming off injuries, but are expected to be ready for spring training. Cabrera could serve as an insurance policy in the case of any set backs, and does add depth to the infield. However, this signing is only really sensible if the other holes on the team are addressed with major league talent, not “internal options” or players on spring training invites looking to latch on with a club.
Time will tell.