Could Everth Cabrera have made sense for the Mets?

By Rich Sparago

Let’s start with the obvious. Yes, I know that Everth Cabrera has had off-the-field issues. He missed the last 50 games of the 2013 season because of his use of PEDs. He has also been suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, and charged with resisting arrest. However, given all of this, the Baltimore Orioles signed Cabrera to a one-year, $2.4 million contract on February 25th. He has a chance to become the Orioles’ starting shortstop, according to Roch Kubakto here. If Cabrera does not win the job, he’s working hard in camp to become a utility infielder. Is there a National League East team that has a similar need?

Mar 1, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles infielder Everth Cabrera (1) poses for a photo during photo day at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets seem committed to Wilmer Flores. They are going into the 2015 season, barring a trade, with Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds backing up Flores. Terry Collins says camp will be an open competition among the three.

Why could Cabrera have made sense? For one thing, he’s a former All Star shortstop. Cabrera made the 2013 National League All Star team, posting a .283 average, along with a .355 OBP, and 37 stolen bases before his suspension. The prior year, he led the NL with 44 stolen bases. Terry Collins lamented the team’s lack of speed earlier last week. It seems Cabrera could have helped in this regard. Cabrera is also a switch hitter, which becomes particularly important if he’s a bench player for late-game situations.

Could some of Cabrera’s numbers be inflated by his use of PEDs? Sure they can. He also suffered a hamstring injury last year, which is particularly detrimental to a player who relies on speed. However, let’s take a quick look at the Mets’ alternatives. The Mets keep waiting for Ruben Tejada to be a strong defender with a steady, if not spectacular bat. Tejada’s career UZR/150 is 1.8, which places him at slightly above average. His offense is devoid of speed, and inconsistent at the plate. In 2012, he hit .289, and backed that up with averages of .202 and .237 the last two seasons. Reynolds hit .333 in half of a Triple A season last year, after batting .355 in Double A. However, there are concerns over whether or not he’s a major-league shortstop.

Back to the PED issue. Before the 2013 season, the Mets signed Marlon Byrd, who also had been suspended for use of a banned substance in his career. So, there’s precedent for the Mets giving players a second chance. If money is the question, Cabrera’s $2.4 million is only slightly more than the Mets are paying Tejada at $1.88 million.

In summary, it’s clear that Everth Cabrera is a risk. He had a sub-par 2014, batting only .232 with a .272 OBP. However, those numbers are only slightly below Tejada’s of last year, and it’s clear that Cabrera has a much higher upside than does Tejada.

The Mets need options at shortstop. Cabrera was out there, and available for a small financial investment, and would have cost no prospects. He isn’t perfect, but for what they Mets can and are willing to pay, I think it would have made sense to bring him to Port Saint Lucie.