Orioles insider Eduardo Encina is reporting that the team is closing in on a one year deal with former All-Star shortstop Everth Cabrera. The deal will be in the $2.4 million range and is pending on Cabrera passing a team physical. The physical is not expected to be an issue, although Cabrera was hampered with hamstring issues throughout the 2014 season.
#Orioles are very close to a finalizing a one-year deal with IF Everth Cabrera, according to an industry source. Has 99 steals last 3 yrs.
— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) February 18, 2015
Provided the deal holds, Cabrera will become the second player in as many seasons with ties to the Biogenesis scandal to join the Orioles. The Orioles struck gold with Nelson Cruz last year, and signing Cabrera is another the low risk, high reward signing the front office has become known for during the team’s resurgence. Cabrera was an All-Star in 2013, and has stolen 136 bases in 481 career games. He will provide an instant boost of speed to an Orioles roster that is sorely lacking in that department.
The Padres decided to part ways with the troubled Cabrera after an unproductive 2014 season in which he slashed only .232/.272/.300 in 90 games. The resisting arrest charge hanging over his head, coupled with the 50 game suspension served for involvement with Biogenesis in 2013 were also contributing factors in the Padres decision to part ways with Cabrera.
Bringing Cabrera into the fold presents some questions in the Orioles infield. The Orioles are committed to J.J. Hardy at shortstop. That leaves second base as a possible landing spot for Cabrera. Jonathan Schoop showed flashes of promise as the primary second baseman last season, but was overmatched at the plate for much of the season, with his average hovering near the Mendoza Line. Schoop likely would have benefitted from another season in Triple-A, but the Orioles lack of another viable second baseman forced his arrival in the Majors.
The addition of Cabrera may create an open competition for the second base job. Long term, I like Schoop’s power – he hit 16 home runs last year – but an additional year in the minors may help him hone his approach at the plate, as he drew only 13 walks in 481 plate appearances.
Either way, the addition of Cabrera is a positive for the Orioles. If he bounces back to his 2013 form, Cabrera gives the Orioles a more viable leadoff option than any currently on the roster. Should he be unable to wrest the starting second base job away from Schoop, the Orioles can still utilize Cabrera as a late inning pinch runner. He also serves as insurance should Hardy struggle with injuries again this season.