It’s funny how quickly things can change in baseball. A couple of months ago, most Mets fans were looking to run shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera out of town after he publicly disparaged the organization when they asked him to play some games at second base, something he was vehemently opposed to doing. But these days many of them are wondering if picking up his $8.5 million club option would be the smart thing to do.
According to several sources, Cabrera wanted the Mets to pick up his option back in Spring Training and in doing so he would gladly play second or third base in addition to his customary shortstop position. After giving the Mets a career best season in 2016, Cabrera believed he earned that option year, but the Mets were having none of that.
When Terry Collins penciled in Asdrubal to play second base in June, the veteran switch-hitter became very indignant and asked for a trade. He later backed off the trade request and eventually played second and third base without any further strife or turmoil.
Still, I thought Cabrera would be good as gone at the deadline, but instead he became the lone survivor as the Mets peddled off all their veteran bats that were unsigned beyond this season.
When you consider the $2 million dollar buyout on Cabrera’s option, it really comes down to being a $6.5 million dollar decision for the Mets, and at that price this looks like a no-brainer for the front office, even in a season that has seen Cabrera post his lowest WAR in five years.
Last season, Cabrera posted a 3.0 WAR which was worth $23.8 million theoretically, almost three times more than his actual salary. This season, Cabrera will likely finish the year with a 1.3 WAR, worth roughly $10 million dollars in value. So you see, the $6.5 million dollar decision would make perfect economical sense for the Mets. He can fill a versatile Ben Zobrist type role at a much more reasonable price.
I posed the question to some of my fellow writers and here’s how they weighed in.
Rob Piersall – I was understandably turned off to the idea of bringing back Cabrera after he publicly requested a trade. There was something about a struggling veteran being outwardly selfish because a team wanted him to be more versatile that really put a bad taste in my mouth. With that being said, I do think the 31-year-old regrets his actions and does want to be apart of this team next year. Prior to Monday’s game, the infielder led the majors with a .449 average in the month of September and was tied for the major league lead in doubles. He has been absolutely crushing it and I think has played his way on to next year’s squad. With David Wright‘s future very much up in the air, Cabrera figures to get a decent amount of reps at third base, while also manning the keystone from time to time. I think the Mets will absolutely pick up his option and I believe it’s the right call.
Logan Barer – With the infield such a huge question mark going into next season, I would pick up Asdrubal Cabrera‘s option – IF – he plays third base and that’s it. No more experimenting at second base and especially not shortstop. If he can play third base every day without complaining, then by all means pick up his option. Wilmer Flores should not have anything to do with the left side of the diamond (I think he should be the starting second baseman where he is actually fine defensively, but that’s a conversation for another time). I would much rather see the Mets go out and sign Mike Moustakas for the hot corner. If that’s not going to happen, which is most likely the case, Cabrera’s my guy for third base next season.
Mathew Brownstein – Picking up Asdrubal Cabrera’s 2018 option is somewhat of a tough call at the moment. While his $8.5 million option (essentially $6.5 million with the $2 million buyout) isn’t exorbitant, we just don’t know how much money the team will reinvest with more than $60 million coming off the books this offseason. The case for Cabrera is such; he offers a veteran bat that can fill in at multiple positions, hits for power (eighth season of 40 plus extra-base hits) and stays relatively healthy (one of only 28 players to have played in at least 980 games since 2011). If ownership and the front office are committed to spending money in areas of need, then they should be looking externally for a viable upgrade at third base. However, Cabrera does offer a somewhat comfortable backup option. Though, if the team is only willing to spend limited dollars, then I’d look to utilize the $6.5 million savings from Cabrera’s buyout elsewhere.
John Sheridan – The Mets should absolutely pick up Asdrubal Cabrera’s option because he’s still a useful major league caliber player well worth $6.5 million (he’s owed a $2 million buyout if the Mets decline the option). Picking up that option allows the Mets to have him as an insurance policy in the event the team cannot improve at second or third base this offseason. If the Mets do improve at both second and third, you’d be hard pressed to find a better utility player.
Dilip Sridhar – It’s been a tale of two seasons for Cabrera. The first half, he was a hero turned villain after the trade request fiasco. He has certainly had his iconic moments as a Met (who could forget that bat flip against the Phillies), but he became someone who was looked down upon by fans due to his mediocre play and reaction to moving positions. Cabrera righted the ship in the second half by slashing .313/.369/.479 with a 126 wRC+ while playing second and third. To no surprise, his ground ball rate has gone down in the second half too, something similar to what we saw in Sept. 2016. I’m willing to assume Cabrera was likely dealing with a nagging injury in the first half. He is still an above average hitter, so the Mets should pick up his option for 2018 in my opinion. The defense and base-running have been atrocious this year but hopefully they can return to his career average. The infielder could be a useful bat who can move around the infield. The Mets would pay him $6.5 million and for a point of reference, they paid Alejandro de Aza $5.5 million. I definitely had my doubts about Cabrera but he’s making his case why he should stay.
Laney Ortiz – At the end of this season, the Mets will be faced with a question of which players they want to bring back and who they want to let go of and Asdrúbal Cabrera is one of those players. Cabrera has spent the past two seasons with the Mets and has played the role of shortstop, third baseman, and second baseman. In the 2017 season, Cabrera has held a .278 batting average with 13 home runs and 52 RBI. Although he has proven to be a useful utility man, the Mets should not be too worried about picking up his option for the 2018 season. Between Amed Rosario, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, Gavin Cecchini and possibly Jose Reyes, the Mets already have a crowded infield. The team should focus on spending money in other areas that could use more improvement rather than their young infield filled with more youthful players.