According to Enrique Rojas, Cabrera has agreed to a two-year deal with the Blue Jays. The contract will reportedly pay him $16 million. That’s not a tiny contract, but clearly the PED bust cost him significant earning ability.
Cabrera is a extreme risk-reward guy. Two years ago in Atlanta, he seemed closer to playing his way out of baseball rather than playing his way into an All-Star game. Then he had a breakout year with the Royals and followed it with a standout year with the Giants, which ultimately ended when he was suspended for elevated levels of testosterone.
Were the drugs the reason for his sudden surge? Was he using without getting caught in Kansas City? Was he getting better anyway and the PEDs helped him maximize on his potential? Will he be able to repeat that success without artificial help?
I’ve written before that I’m skeptical Cabrera can be anything more than a good fourth outfielder or so-so everyday guy. It’s hard to see those huge career spikes and not attribute them to some sort of outside influence, but I also talked to one baseball official at the GM Meetings who thought the opposite. The official told me that Cabrera’s work ethic has changed considerably since he left the Yankees, and he’s now considered a hard worker who’s going to be good even without the drugs. This official said it would be hard for a team with a conservative fan base to sign him, but this same official thought Cabrera would be a great opportunity for someone to buy low.
If the Yankees weren’t willing to give Torii Hunter two years, they surely weren’t willing to give Cabrera two years, but if he produces close to this year’s numbers, he’ll be a real steal in that Blue Jays lineup.