On Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Texas Rangers signed infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year deal worth less than $5 million. Rosenthal tweeted that the Rangers plan to use Cabrera at third base, a position left open by the retirement of future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre and the trade that sent former top prospect Jurickson Profar to the Oakland Athletics.
Cabrera is a two-time All-Star and former Silver Slugger, and at 33 years old, still has something left in the tank. The veteran hit .262 with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 60 extra-base hits over 147 games with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies last season, while playing third base, shortstop, and second base with both teams.
But this signing has more value in the front office than it does on the field. With a dirt cheap one-year contract, Cabrera will be an incredibly easy and valuable player to flip at the annual Major League Baseball trade deadline, allowing the retooling Rangers to continue filling their prospect core up again. His reliability, versatility, and consistency will be a quality addition to a contender’s roster, and the Rangers can net a respectable return for a player that didn’t cost much to sign in the first place.
Texas is experiencing a changing of the guard, in regards to managers, players, the timeline for pennant contention, and heck, even their ballpark. All they can do right now is follow the blueprint of other rebuilding clubs and go forth with moving players for prospects, saving money, and drafting intelligently. They did it with Profar, Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Alex Claudio, and Keone Kela among others over the past two seasons and have reaped the rewards of strong, youthful players to build around.Asdrubal Cabrera has reportedly signed with the Rangers. @bytomdorsa explains why the switch-hitter is a perfect fit for the Rangers, who will almost certainly flip him for prospects at the trade deadline.Click To Tweet
Their farm system has improved drastically since general manager Jon Daniels started to trade with little hesitance, with XXX of their top 30 prospects (according to MLB.com) having been acquired via trade. Brock Burke (6th), Taylor Hearn (7th), Eli White (12th), Jason Bahr (16th), Pedro Gonzalez (19th), A.J. Alexy (20th), and Jordan Romano (25th) were all attained in trades that occurred over the past year and a half, starting with the 2017 MLB trade deadline.
At the end of the 2017 minor-league season, Bleacher Report ranked the Rangers’ farm system as 21st in baseball. Their most recent farm system rankings placed the Rangers at 16th, which doesn’t seem like a huge jump, but that truly is a big one for a farm system that was absolutely depleted during much of Texas’ run of World Series contention.
To think that the Rangers could get a top-30 prospect for Cabrera at the 2019 deadline, assuming the infielder stays healthy, is not a stretch. The going price for the Venezuelan, as set by the Phillies at the 2018 MLB trade deadline, is a top-10 team prospect. The Mets got young right-hander Franklyn Kilome, who was 10th on the Phillies’ MLB.com top 30 prospects list, and now ranks third on New York’s top 30 rundown.
Cabrera’s price was that high because he had been hitting .277 with 18 home runs with the Mets, which intrigued the Phillies to go forth on trading for the infielder. But Cabrera was playing that well at a ballpark that favors pitchers, according to ESPN’s park factors. Now, the switch-hitter is moving to a hitter’s park, Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, a park that ranked first in runs (1.352), second in hits (1.171), third in home runs (1.273), and third in triples (1.957).
With that in mind, Cabrera should not only play as well as he did in 2018 (again, barring injuries or a very, very harsh decline), but should have better offensive power stats. He remains versatile in that he can play multiple positions at a high level and can hit anywhere in the lineup as a switch-hitter. He will provide that value in 2019 for the Rangers, but will potentially give them help in their rebuild as a tradable asset worthy of a solid return.