It might seem like ages ago, but it really hasn’t been all that long since Asdrubal Cabrera hit that dramatic home run against the Phillies late in the 2016 season to help the Mets earn their Wild Card spot in that season’s playoffs. And while that might seem less relevant now than ever, the bat flip that Cabrera gave us as that ball sailed over the fence—memorialized on a t-shirt—set the stage for some early drama in the 2017 season.
The Mets were visiting the Phillies for a series in early April. Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos—whose name you had probably forgotten both between that Cabrera bat flip and the April game and between the game and now—took it upon himself to throw over Cabrera’s head in what appeared to be retaliation for the celebration of the aforementioned home run. As far as the Mets-Phillies rivalry has gone over the past few years, that confrontation might have been the high point.
As for the season in general, Cabrera hit well once again. Even though his home run total dipped from 23 in 2016 to 14 in 2017—the year that just about everyone hit home runs like they were in batting practice—the production was solid. He hit .280/.351/.434 with a 111 wRC+ in 540 plate appearances. And although he may not have been thrilled about it, he moved off shortstop as the season went on—especially once stud prospect Amed Rosario got the call to the big leagues.
In total, Cabrera played 274.1 innings at second base, 350.1 innings at third, and 386.2 at short. He fared worst by Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop, where he was a -8, though he racked up -6 at second base despite playing there for less time. All of these are extremely small samples for a defensive metric, but for what it’s worth, DRS had him at +1 at third. But the overall defensive numbers factored into his 1.3 fWAR, a fairly significant drop from the 3.0 he posted in his excellent 2016 season.
The Mets hold an option on Cabrera for the 2018 season, and a team playing in New York City should have absolutely no hesitation about picking it up. He’d earn $8.5 million if the option is picked up and would have to be paid a $2 million buyout if it’s not. Sure, penciling in Cabrera as your Plan A at either second base or third base might not be the ideal scenario, but this is a player who can absolutely help a competitive team and doesn’t cost all that much—ideally to play a regular but less than everyday role as a utility infielder.