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The Rays have signed veteran free agent middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera according to several reports. The contract is a 1-year deal worth about $8 million according to Joel Sherman.

Asdrubal played the last seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians but was traded at this year’s deadline to the Washington Nationals. In 2014, Cabrera hit .241 with a .307 OBP (.308 wOBA) and 14 home runs in 146 games. His best season came in 2011 when he hit .273 with a .332 OBP (.344 wOBA) and 25 home runs.

This move is significant because the Rays won’t be able to fit Cabrera on the roster with both Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist unless Zobrist moves to the outfield and Zobrist doesn’t fit in the outfield with Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, Steven Souza, David DeJesus, and Brandon Guyer.

In addition, despite being a promising defensive player early in his career, Cabrera has generally been below-average with the glove. However, he has been a little better at second base compared to his play at shortstop.

So somebody has to be traded and the most likely candidate is Zobrist.

Zobrist has been rumored to be a trade candidate for a while with one recent report noting that several GMs in baseball believe the Giants will eventually put together a package of prospects the Rays will want.

Zobrist is scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2015.

The addition of Cabrera could mean the Giants and Rays are close enough to a deal that the Rays think it will happen.

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32 Comments

  1. edward williams says:

    sorry don't like it, you are paying more money to a lesser player, there goes my theory about payroll cuts.

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    • Rob says:

      I like it if it's Escobar who leaves. If it's Zobrist the acquisition makes no sense.

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      • Dave L says:

        The Rays are mitigating the loss of Zobrist for 2015 while benefiting from what he will bring in a trade. Its a one year deal. Its about selling high a valuable asset while buying a likely overpriced but very short term but servicable poor mans substitute.

        No one including the Rays think 2015 Asdrubal > 2015 Zo at the price points.

        Factor in the future value of the prospects. The same way Smiley filled in for Price then after that its all gravy.

        In all scenarios remember Zo walks away clean in 2016 don't kid yourself. All attempts to extend him with Rays below market value monopoly money have failed otherwise we wouldn't be at this stage.

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      • Drew says:

        If they do trade Zobrist, and the report of the contract amount is accurate, they are essentially swapping the players they receive via trade for the gap in performance between Zobrist and Cabrera. Maybe the Rays think that gap will be minimal (1 WAR). You also have to consider they may get an MLB ready reliever in the package that can help offset that ~1 WAR this season.

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    • Chris says:

      This isn't about swapping for a lesser player for more money, this is about taking on $500k in extra payroll so you have the ability to trade a player that can bring back a truckload of prospects.

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  2. Woodrow744 says:

    I'm scratching my head on this one, boys. Zobrist is money at every position Ive seen him play and a decent switch hitter - why in the world would you keep Escobar and trade Zobrist? There's a simple reason teams are asking about him - he is very good and while 7 and a half million sounds extraordinary to us, it is not big money in today's MLB. Trade Yunel and keep Zorilla!

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  3. Ted Sheckler says:

    I thought Zobrist would get traded even without this signing. I think this means Escobar will also go, and they'll go with Cabrera at short and a Franklin/Forsythe platoon at second.

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    • Dave L says:

      Im down with that Ted.

      Would you rather have 1 year of Zobrist at $7M or 1 year of Asdrubal at $8M? Of course the former but thats not the point

      What is one year of Zobrist going to give us? A WS title? No

      OTOH what will one year of Zobrist bring us? For a team thinking he's the missing link to Nirvana in 2015 , he gives us a bridge to a brighter future.

      Its Rays 101.

      Zobrist has real value and don't be surprised if the team who signs him extends him immediately thus increasing his value to us in return. Hes more Longo-like stability security family guy than Price Alpha Dog in character.

      I think Escobar has trade minor value to bring us something that may be a relative hail mary a AA or A or two but at least not JoeMo like salary dump/loss.

      I am pleased with all the moves so far taken as a whole.

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      • Woodrow744 says:

        Dave L - good takes as always. Early in this process you thought this was all a setup for 2016. If this trade happens, I guess you are correct…it's not the 8 mil, it's the length of the contract.

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  4. Alex says:

    It hurts to say, but the time is right to trade Zo. He's 33 going on 34 this year. His skills are declining and if he can net us some good prospects why not?

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  5. doug says:

    I predict Zobrist to the Giants who have two ML capable catchers of interest, and other prospects.

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Not a very bold prediction considering every pundit on the planet has already made it. 🙂

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      • doug says:

        Well there is also a case being made for Washington too. Once I looked at what the potential return might be from each of the two most prominent proposed suitors, the availability of two catchers in SF made sense to me. Catcher remains a huge gaping hole here.

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    • Dave L says:

      Doug are you the one who mentioned Susac the other day? I dont think SF is going to give that guy up. It would take more than one year of Zo to pry him away. We would have to be the ones throwing in arms to get him I suspect if he is even available which i doubt.

      Look down lower and there may be somebody, Giants are pretty deep at C.

      Here is one SFG watchers view, pretty recent stuff --food for thought.

      http://whenthegiantscometotown.blogspot.com/2014/11/2015-giants-depth-chart-catcher.html

      Plus Susac sucks at framing? Egads! heheh

      Sanchez or Arnold more likely part of a package if its the Giants.

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  6. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Makes no sense to be redundant because Dave L and others have already hit the nail on the head; Zobrist was getting traded either way so it's not as if they are trading Zobrist simply because they got ACab.

    He's a legitimate replacement that opens up the possibility of dumping Escobar or giving Lee one more (or 1/2 of a) season to show if he can be an everyday 2B or SS.

    The Rays' return via a Zonrist trade will leave them in a better position with the addition of Cabrera as a short-term stop-gap in conjunction with whomever they get from the Giants (presumably).

    As a Rays fan it'll hurt to see Zo-rilla go, but as a baseball fan I see the move as smart and necessary.

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  7. Gus says:

    If Cabrera were really the equivalent off Zobrist, then why wouldn't the Giants (or whoever the trading partner is) have signed Cabrera?

    Rationalize it all you want, but Zobrist is a valuable guy in the clubhouse and in the community, a tie to the great Rays teams and affordable. This feels like an Escobar move to me than a Zobrist move, but when the Rays Index general consensus is blowing so much in Zobrist's direction, I surmise that is where we are headed.

    How Escobar has survived the purge of 2014 is one of the enduring mysteries. Need to get rid of Friedman's last remaining idiotic move.

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  8. edward williams says:

    next year is going to suck, i know i know, tell us something we don't know.lol, unless they get a bat or two this team isn't built to win a championship, from everything i have been reading this new guy doesn't have a real good glove, from what i also have read the new catcher is ok, so if we trade zobrist than our defense is getting worse , i do think our pitching will be ok, but as we have seen in the past that hasn't won a ws, i'm not saying devil rays days but not pretty either. Please fellow rays fans call me off the bridge lol, i also wish everybody a very healthy and happy new year.

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    • STARMAND says:

      IIRC, both Forsythe and Franklin have options. And Escobar and Cabrera both speak Spanish.

      Let me cheer you up. If Zobrist stays, the only change that needs to be accomplished is to have him learn to say fluently... "¡Yo la tengo!". And then some Adderall for Escobar, who seems to stray out-of-focus more often than not.

      What most people don't seem to know is that "Adderall" is actually composed of two words. "Add" and "erall". "Add" is simple, it's the opposite of "subtraction", a term of Viking origin that dates back to their time-sharing days in England during the Middle Ages. In turn, "erall", in Spanish is the opposite of "error", meaning error-free. A medical certification for Escobar should work wonders for his on-the-field play.

      Back to "¡Yo la tengo!". W. Myers moment in Game 1 of the 2013 ALDS game, as an exhaustive investigation points out, was a result of D. Jennings inability to recognize Myer's "¡Yo la tengo!" hand motion. Accordingly, either by body language in Spanish or by actually shouting "¡Yo la tengo!", the Rays middle infield should play error-free baseball this year.

      No need to thank me for such a thorough explanation. Happy New Year! Or as Escobar would say, Felice Anno Nuovo!

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    • OriginalTom says:

      "this new guy does not have a real good glove"

      Jordan Zimmerman begs to differ.

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    • Political_Man says:

      I'm not ready to give up on 2015 just yet. It's probably true that we need to catch lightning in a bottle (al la Carlos Pena.) But the pitching is there. If Souza turns out to be the player some think he can be and we get one more bat in the line up that can hit maybe the 6-9 spots in the order aren't the black hole they have been in the past.

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  9. edward williams says:

    I read in a few articles that his defense isn't that good, than yesterday I read it isn't that bad, sooooo that is why I called for you all to call me off the bridge.lol. He was an all star, but that really isn't saying too much these days, I do understand about trying to get some players for the rays, what I am conserned about is how the rays are now "restocking " the minors, after all when you have good years your draft picks aren't that high, but there seems to be a pattern here, I know that the rays resigned longo and moore,, I forgot about archer also, I am actually talking myself out of my theory here, they also signed looney, and escobar, well lets throw that one out, lol. I just wish they would get a big bat, really who scares you when they come up, who when you are at the concessions and is coming up to bat do you want to see, longo maybe, I remember when Conseco was here for that half of a season before the roids hurt him, nobody left their seats when he came up to bat. Again I know defense wins championships, (pitching) but I think the rays have proved that you have to have some offence , look at the old Atlanta braves, all that pitching for all those years and only one ws, if I remember right they had a decent offense, for the life of me besides McGriff (who I think should be in the hall) I can't not think of the guys name who I believe won a couple of mvp's before falling off. Help me folks. lol Well here's to another month of waiting, at least we have the lightning.

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    • starmand says:

      I too wonder if Bishop can play SS.

      🙂

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      • starmand says:

        Forgot. Chipper Jones, David Justice?

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        • edward williams says:

          dale murphy, that was the name ,but now im not sure if he was on those great braves teams, or the lousy ones, I grew up a mets fan, but changed my allegiance in 1998 , was easy. Maybe because the mets where nl and rays al, doesn't matter I always root for the rays, no matter who they play.

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  10. edward williams says:

    did forget them, but there was another one, this is going to drive me nuts I will have to go look it up.

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  11. Dave L says:

    Ok since we added Asdrubal, we have have a glut of middle infielders.

    Let me make the case of why this is not the time for Escobar to go and is the time to deal Zobrist.

    I agree with many that Escobar may be on a death spiral to oblivion after his 2014 plus his volatile childish character. Unlike some I believe he has some trade value, though not alot admittedly. The calls the last 8 months or so to simply DFA him are no more valid now than during the season.

    If you take WAR Escobar is last or just above old man Jeter last year. Ok i know, But most of that was his horrific defense. The fact remains with the additions and subtractions we are severely offensively challenged heading into 2015. Yet is for all his warts Yunel was a decent bat even in 2014 for a SS and a very good one in 2013. His wRC+ was 14th amongst the top 30 PA SS in MLB last year. His K rate was 4th lowest so he is still a battler we all know that.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=ss&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=350&type=8&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=17,d

    Whats the harm of bringing him into Charlotte and seeing where hes at mentally and physically? The coaches will know if he is in a good place or a bad one if bad ok and somebodies SS will pull up lame in April and his trade value will increase marginally. His salary is high by Rays skinflint payscale but its manageable by most of MLB.

    We cant afford to dump a possible league average bat in 2015 until we know he's done as a SS. Remember he was not platooned and faced everybody. Maybe if he took some time off and was convinced it would help him overall. Last year he was given the keys to the 6 spot and he lost his focus. Hopefully the signing of the younger Venezuelano will light a fire under his Cubano backside. He historically does better with something to prove.

    Either way waiting to move him wont hurt and its not like hes going to bring a pot of gold in return anyway. But Zobrist will, not like Price but maybe 60 -70% at this point iwith his age/contract.

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    • OriginalTom says:

      I would not move Zobrist unless I received in return at least close to what they received for Price. Zobrist has has a greater WAR then Price over the past 5 years 28.8-21.9 via Baseball-Ref and 27.1-23.5 via Fangraphs. Additionally the team that receives Zobrist will only owe him 7 million whereas the Tigers have already paid Price about 4 million and will probably pay him an additional 20 million this year. That is a 17 Million difference.
      I realize there are a couple of mitigating factors here 1) Zo is 34 and Price 29. 2) The tigers got Price for the stretch run which is the most valuable time to get a player. 3) The Tigers have Price for 1 1/3 season and a team would only have Zo for 1 season. Still it is hard to see how this wipes out a 17 million savings.

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      • Dave L says:

        I was the one arguing to consider trading Zo last winter and last trade deadline because his value was near equal to Price. But he is on the declining part of his career and Price is in his prime. So he lost some value. At this point Price is a $25M/5 year and Zo will be a $16M 3 to 4 year guy. So value wise they are close in money terms but not in perceived value as a player and they got two playoff runs vs 1, id put it at roughly 2/3 the value. Zo's value is in his extendability by a normal MLB $$ team

        Remember your fall back or else position if we dont get Price booty in return is trade him for one Sept/Oct stretch run if we are out of it which means its even less or he walks later and we get exhaust fumes only.

        My arguement was waiting on trading Escobar cant hurt us and waiting on Zo can.

        You gotta love hot stove season!

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  12. Dave L says:

    The Shelton must go! crowd may not agree with this assessment the optimism of Asdrubals potential and the whys and wherefores.....

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/54263/rays-add-cabrera-is-a-zobrist-trade-next

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