It appears the first legitimate external free agent candidate has emerged for the Detroit Tigers: outfielder Melky Cabrera.
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While the team and fans have been dwelling on several big free agents the team will be looking to sign or let walk in Victor Martinez, Max Scherzer, and Torii Hunter, not much has been bandied about in free agents coming to Detroit–until now.
This rumor gained traction throughout the day on Tuesday, during the General Manager meetings in Phoenix. Cabrera spent the last two seasons in Toronto and it appears buzz around that town has the 30-year old outfielder leaning toward the Tigers.
Former Detroit sports radio host Greg Brady performs in the same role in Toronto these days, and he had this to say:
While the Tigers possible sticking point with V-Mart is a possible fourth year, Brady reported that Cabrera may not be as concerned with length of contract and while four years would possibly get the deal done, the team would not have to go over a four-year offer.
Melky Cabrera is a veteran of 10 years in the majors, breaking in with the New York Yankees in 2005, full-time in 2006. He was having a career year for the 2012 San Francisco Giants before being suspended for PED use. While eligible for the postseason, the Giants chose not to bring him back and ended up winning the World Series over the Tigers anyway.
He has also spent time in Atlanta and Kansas City during his career.
Cabrera hit .301 with 16 homers, 73 RBIs and an .808 OPS in 2014. Part of the reason the Tigers would be so intrigued with him as that he’d fill the same two-hole in the lineup that he batted for Toronto, thus replacing Hunter in that spot. Offensively it would be an upgrade of Torii, who had an uneven season last year.
Defensively this probably would mean Cabrera would play left while J.D. Martinez slides over to right field.