Why the Yankees Should Consider Signing Melky Cabrera
A familiar face on the free agent market that New York should snag if they seek outfield depth.
With all this talk of the Yankees adding starting pitching this offseason, so far the club has made more moves regarding their outfield than any other position.
On Wednesday, New York announced the release of Jacoby Ellsbury -- an anticlimactic end to one of the most disappointing signings in franchise history. Days later, on Friday night, reports surfaced that the Yanks had reached an agreement with Zack Granite, adding the minor league veteran to the fold.
That leaves Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier and 21-year-old prospect Estevan Florial as the only outfielders on the 40-man roster. Brett Gardner, the longest-tenured Yankee, and Cameron Maybin are currently free agents.
It’s entirely possible the Bombers elect to steer clear from position players this winter, saving their money for pitchers. Considering this club’s track record with injuries, however, adding another outfielder may be a smart decision.
Not to mention the fact that Frazier could be involved in a trade, Florial may not be deemed ready for the big leagues and you never know, negotiations could stall with Gardner, who is otherwise likely to return. It’s the offseason folks, anything can happen!
There’s quite a few outfielders available, some more expensive than others. While talented and certainly capable of making an impact in the Bronx, don’t expect the Yanks to sign Marcell Ozuna, Nicholas Castellanos or Yasiel Puig because of the price tag attached.
Corey Dickerson could be an option -- a 30-year-old left-handed bat with AL East experience that was an All-Star not too long ago. That being said, he was banged up in 2019 and isn’t necessarily at the point of his career yet to take any major pay cuts.
If New York seeks speed, they may look to sign Jarrod Dyson -- the Bombers were 24th in steals last season (55) while Dyson had 30 on his own (tied for seventh best in all of baseball). His stats at the plate, however, leave much to be desired.
So, if the Yankees decide to add one more outfielder this offseason, to bolster their bench with a veteran and add a positive clubhouse presence, there's a familiar option on the market that New York should consider.
Bring back the Melk Man!
Cabrera started his career with five seasons in pinstripes, winning a World Series with the Yanks in 2009 before departing in a trade the following offseason.
Since then, the 35-year-old has bounced around and played for seven different teams -- most recently the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s coming off a decent season, hitting .280 in 2019 with 22 doubles in 133 games.
Over 15 seasons, the veteran has a career average of .285 -- just 28 hits away from 2000.
A one-year deal for Melky would add a durable switch-hitter who can still handle the bat for a low price. Over the last two seasons combined, Cabrera’s salaries have amounted to only a touch above $1 million, and that’s sure to get even lower as he continues to age. In fact, his contract with Pittsburgh in 2019 was initially a minor-league deal with no strings attached.
Money aside, Cabrera is a clubhouse guy. From what Yankee fans may remember watching during his four full seasons with the club, he contributes in a positive manner outside of the box score.
Remember the helmet toss on walk-off home runs in 2009? Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira jumping around like little kids playing a game of jackpot -- Melky was right in the middle of it each time. His shenanigans off the field aren’t a distraction, they facilitate success between the lines.
Not convinced yet? Well think about Gerardo Parra and Baby Shark. Parra understood his role with the Nationals from a baseball standpoint, contributing where he could during the regular season, but purely his existence translated to positive results with the fan base, traditions with his teammates in the dugout and an overall clubhouse atmosphere that can spark a hot streak for any team. It just so happened Parra's presence helped the Nationals win a World Series...
Plus, think about all the merchandise for a former Yankee, with one of the best nicknames in baseball, returning to pinstripes. We're talking t-shirts, gallons of milk and milkman costumes at Yankee Stadium while fans dust off the ol' No. 53 jersey.
Above all else, it’s safe to say John Sterling will be pleased.
By no means is Melky the same player from when he last played in the Bronx, but if he’s willing to take a pay cut to pursue a ring, a homecoming could certainly benefit this ball club.
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