The Mets traded a lot of players this summer. None of them asked to be traded. One player asked to be traded, and he is still donning the orange and blue. It is surprising and ironic, but we must accept it.
Asdrubal Cabrera started this season as a shortstop and immediately showed everyone that his days in the six-hole were over. He shifted to second base where he played well considering he hadn’t played there since 2014. He later moved to third base and has taken to the hot corner very well.
The Mets hold a team option on the 31-year-old’s contract for next season. If executed, he will be paid $8.5 million in 2018. The way I see it, there are three possibilities going into next season regarding Cabrera’s status as a Met.
If Wilmer Flores is going to play every day next season, he would be at second base. While Flores is under par at most defensive positions, second base is the only one where he is actually up to snuff. Because shortstop is out of the question, that leaves third base as the most logical destination for Asdrubal Cabrera.
In 117 games this season, Cabrera has hit .268/.340/.420 with 12 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 104 wRC+. It is a far cry from his .280/.336/.474 slash line from 2016, a season in which he hit almost twice as many home runs (23). As I said, here are the three most likely possibilities for 2018.
Void His Contract
$8.5 million is a lot of money to pay an injury-prone 32-year-old who might be declining. If the Mets were so hell-bent on shedding salary that they gave away veterans for almost nothing this summer, it’s entirely possible the Mets will just let Cabrera go to free agency and look for a cheaper option for third base.
This isn’t the best option because he does have some trade value for teams that actually spend on players, but it would guarantee $8.5 million off the books for the Mets next season. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a $2 million buyout on his option, a number more than paid for by the trades Sandy Alderson made this summer.
Pick Up His Option And Trade Him
This is what the Mets hoped to do with Jay Bruce this past offseason. Instead of letting him go to free agency, they picked up his option with the intent to trade him before the season started. A deal never came to fruition and after Bruce had an amazing first half, they were still unable to get much for him at the deadline.
Cabrera easily has less value than Bruce, so if the Mets were to keep him and trade him, the return could be negligible. Also, considering his $8.5 million contract, a deal could involve the Mets eating a significant portion of that amount to get a better return. This option is risky, but entirely possible.
Start Him At Third Base
This last option mostly depends on the Mets’ willingness to spend this offseason. Many, including myself, are calling for the signing of third baseman Mike Moustakas. He is 29 years-old and an all-around better player than Cabrera, hitting .277/.319/.538 with 36 home runs and 81 RBIs this season.
If the Mets are unwilling to splurge this season, which is most likely the case, having Cabrera at third base for $8.5 million is reasonable. If he hits close to his career slash line of .269/.330/.419 and plays league average defense at third, his contract would be worth it.
Whatever option Sandy Alderson ends up going with, he will be able to squeeze some sort of value out of the aging Cabrera. Whether he chooses to trade him or keep him in the Mets infield, the decision regarding Cabrera will significantly affect the Mets going into next season.