Outfielder Melky Cabrera has reportedly agreed to a minor-league contract with the Cleveland Indians, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Cabrera put up a .285/.324/.423 slash line in 156 games last season, split between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals. He had 17 home runs.
The 33-year-old is a career 286/.335/.418 at the plate, having accumulated 131 home runs in 1,676 MLB games.
The Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, native has also spent time with the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, and Toronto Blue Jays in his 13-year MLB career.
Cabrera ought to serve as a solid insurance policy for Cleveland. Michael Brantley has become an injury risk in recent years, while Cleveland is currently relying upon a Tyler Naquin-Brandon Guyer platoon in right field. Lonnie Chisenhall is on his way back from the disabled list, but it doesn’t hurt to have another option just a call away.
Of course, Cabrera will presumably have some kind of opt-out in his deal. As such, don’t be surprised if he makes his way to Cleveland over the coming weeks.
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A 13-year veteran, Cabrera will add depth to Cleveland’s outfield and give the club another veteran with playoff experience. Once he is cleared medically and signed, Cabrera is expected to spend some time with Triple-A Columbus before the Indians consider adding him to their roster.
If there’s a concern with Cabrera, it’s that he’s generally a defensive liability in the corner outfield spots. Last season proved as much.
According to FanGraphs, Cabrera finished 2017 with minus-20 defensive runs saved, which ranked 55th among qualified outfielders. Cabrera also finished 55th in UZR among that same group with a final tally of minus-11.6.
Moving forward, the Indians will hope Cabrera can continue to flash a powerful arm and tamp down defensive deficiencies while maintaining a robust average at the minor league level and perhaps eventually in the majors.