In a strange series of moves last week, reliever Cesar Cabral was claimed from the Rays by the Blue Jays, and then two days later, re-claimed by the Rays. And now we learn that an under-the-table deal between the Red Sox and Jays may have forced the Jays to return Cabral.
According to Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star, the Red Sox agreed to let the Blue Jays interview (and subsequently hire) John Farrell as manager if the Jays agreed to not take any Red Sox prospects in the Rule 5 Draft. It was thought that Farrell’s knowledge of the Red Sox system would give the Jays an unfair advantage in the Rule 5 Draft.
Cabral, a reliever that has never pitched above single-A, was subsequently taken by the Rays in the draft. But when he was exposed to waivers by the Rays, the Jays made the claim, assuming the move would not violate the handshake agreement. However, the Red Sox objected, noting Cabral, as a Rule 5 Draftee, is technically still Red Sox property until he makes (and stays) on the Rays opening day roster.
From the tone of Griffin’s article, it doesn’t sound like the Blue Jays were being sneaky. Rather, they honestly did not think the move would violate the agreement. And as soon as the Red Sox objected, Cabral was returned to the Rays.
In the meantime, Cabral will still have to be returned to the Red Sox if he fails to make the opening day roster, something that is unlikely to happen. The Rays could also try to work out a trade with the Red Sox to keep Cabral in the minors, something the Sox are unlikely to want to do.
Or as Andrew Friedman said during a recent Rays game, maybe the team can “get creative” and find a way to keep him in the Rays system. Perhaps a trip to the Rays infamous Undisabled List?