Veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera is in need of a new home and a chance to erase the stench of his 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The Chicago Cubs are in need of a productive outfielder who can provide lineup protection for young stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.
Cabrera is the type of buy-low candidate that could be a perfect fit for the rebuilding Cubs.
Cabrera was having a career year for the San Francisco Giants when he was suspended in mid-August. The 28-year-old outfielder was hitting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs at the time of his suspension. The Giants left the soon-to-be free agent off of their postseason roster, a sure sign that Cabrera won't be returning to the Bay Area in 2013.
The Cubs are coming off a 101-loss season in the first year of Theo Epstein's rebuilding plan. Epstein has already clearly stated that Chicago will not be a major bidder for this winter's most prominent free agents. Epstein has also suggested that the club would like to add an outfielder prior to spring training.
The Cubs should sign Cabrera to a one-year make-good contract to patrol center field in Wrigley next season. Cabrera will likely need to prove that his offensive surge was not totally PED driven before any club makes him a lucrative long-term offer. He could come to Chicago to play in the friendly confines in a lineup with Rizzo, Castro, and the suddenly productive Alfonso Soriano.
Signing Cabrera would let the Cubs start outfield prospect Brett Jackson at Triple-A Iowa in 2013. Jackson played in 44 games for Chicago in 2012, hitting just .175 with a staggering 59 strikeouts in 120 at-bats. In addition to buying time for Jackson the signing of Cabrera could also bring much-needed prospects into the Cubs' minor league system. Cabrera, on a one-year contract, would be sufficiently motivated to post an impressive offensive season in order to land a lucrative long-term contract following the 2013 season. Cabrera could potentially be swapped at the trade deadline for prospects, much like Paul Maholm, who was dealt to the Braves in July after signing a one-year contract with the Cubs last offseason.
The Cubs need an infusion of young arms to make Epstein's stated rebuilding plan a reality. Giving Melky Cabrera a second chance would be a low-risk maneuver for the Cubbies that could pay dividends at the trade deadline.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com.