Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
After a roller coaster season that should have ended with a batting title, Melky Cabrera instead finds himself in the bargain bin. That happens to be where the Mets will be shopping this offseason.
The rumor is that the Mets are interested in Melky Cabrera. It makes sense. After his positive test for steroids, the artist formally known as the Melkman is going to be relegated to pounding the pavement for gainful employment. He'll be cheap because teams have the leverage: how do they know that he wasn't pumped up by performance-enhancing drugs when he was good? And the Mets will be shopping among the bargains, and the Mets need an outfielder.
It makes a lot of sense.
There are plenty of reasons to have bad feelings about the possible signing. He's a former Yankee. He was below replacement in 2009. He's only twice been better than average over his seven-year career. He's a cheat. He tried to cover up his cheating and bungled that. His own team picked Aubrey Huff over him for the World Series roster.
But if you've ever played fantasy baseball, you're probably familiar with the concept a friend of mine once called Rotizophrenia. That's what happens when David Wright is up against your fantasy team's ace in a big moment for your fantasy team. It's that dirty feeling of winning. It's the knowledge that temporary pain can be worth a long-term gain. Call it the 'flags fly forever' rule.
At the numbers that are being bandied about for Melky, there's a chance for short-term gain, in a position of need, at a time in which the team won't have much money . It'd absolutely be the case where a little schizophrenia could help a skeptical fan get over their reservations.
Even when Cabrera was just a tweener outfielder -- enough bat for center, with a glove for the corners -- he was regularly putting up numbers between a win and two wins. That's a slightly below average player. If wins are worth anywhere from $5.5 million to $9 million on the open market this year, then one year for anywhere from five to ten million is a bargain. The Mets only have one player on the roster that played the corner outfield to a one-win level in 2012 (Mike Baxter) and they've only got about $10 million to spend on the free agent market according to some sources.
Does it make sense to spend any money when the team is probably looking beyond 2013? Yes. You never know what can happen. Players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Lucas Duda and Jordany Valdespin will get enough chances to develop at the big league level even with Cabrera in town -- there are three outfield positions the team needs to fill. And with a rotation like the one that's coming together in Queens, it's worth taking cheap, short-term calculated risks every offseason. After all, the team that just won the world series had this blueprint before: develop great starting pitching and cobble together a lineup around a couple stars. The first time it worked for them, there were more than few eyes rolled at the signings of Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell.
Melky Cabrera is a 28-year-old outfielder that should be able to put up anywhere from one to four wins next year and should cost less than ten million dollars for a year. Even if it will feel dirty, signing him would make sense for the Mets.