Cabrera could use a short-term contract to prove himself as a player without PEDs. Image: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Bay, Melky Cabrera Possible Fits for Tribe


Cleveland Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes did a mailbag piece this weekend and mentioned both Jason Bay and Melky Cabrera as options for upgrade the left field position in Cleveland.

While Cabrera’s mention was more speculative (Hoynes could see a fit but didn’t note any team interest), Bay was someone he referred to as being “on the radar” of Indians GM Chris Antonetti. In his season-and-a-half playing for new Indians manager Terry Francona in Boston, Bay produced an OPS of .915 and clubbed 45 home runs with 156 RBI. In the three seasons since, however, Bay has amassed a mere 26 long balls and 124 RBI while playing for the Mets at CitiField.

Progressive Field in Cleveland isn’t a hitter’s haven like Boston, but it is much more hitter-friendly than CitiField has been, especially when allowing home runs. The Tribe has a very real need for a right handed bat, preferably one with power that can play left field. Bay fits all of those criteria and you’d think the familiarity with Francona would help. Of course, the Red Sox were none too interested in re-signing Bay when his contract ended following the 2009 season. It would stand to reason that Francona was at least consulted about that decision. So maybe the devil you know, in this situation, is not quite as attractive as the devil you don’t.

If there ever was a “devil you don’t” know, it’s Cabrera. Not only does he have no history playing for the Indians or any of their coaches,  Cabrera has been all over the map as a player in his career. When he first came up with New York, he looked like a guy that had a lot of talent and could develop into an everyday player. In Atlanta he was a mess on the field and wildly unpopular in the clubhouse. The Braves couldn’t dump him fast enough. Then he goes to Kansas City on a low-risk deal for the Royals and has a career year, which lead to the trade to San Francisco, the all-star game MVP, the too-good-to-be-true numbers and the fallout from the PED suspension.

Is Cabrera they player Atlanta couldn’t wait to unload or the guy who lead the league in hits and hitting while on the field with the Giants? Is he the guy who produced 200 hits and 44 doubles for the Royals in 2011? All this depends on how much stock you put into the effects of PEDs and how long you think Cabrera got away with using them. Keep in mind though that Cabrera will play next season at age 28, so if ever he was going to be the player the Braves had thought he was when they traded for him, he’ll be in his peak seasons over the next three years.

With either player, the risk is probably low. Bay needs a short-term deal to rebuild his value ahead of free agency next year. Cabrera might still land a multi-year deal as it seems he’s at least being discussed by several teams with outfield needs. A one-year deal for him might serve the player well also.

Cleveland gave almost 450 at bats to the likes of Shelley Duncan and Johnny Damon in left field last year and the reult was a collection on left fielders that combined to produce an OPS under .600. These type of buy-low players can use a team like the Indians to give them at bats while not investing large dollars. Adding one of the two seems a very wise move for Antonetti and the Tribe. If they decide to trade Shin-Soo Choo, they’d be smart to try to sign both.

Tags: Cleveland Indians Free Agents Indians Rumors Jason Bay Melky Cabrera MLB Rumors