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Indians sign outfielder Melky Cabrera to a minor league deal

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Championship?

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Since I’m still awake by virtue of being on the west coast, I get the chance to break the news for Let’s Go Tribe:

The offseason was a weird one that left many free agents without a team. One of those free agents was Melky Cabrera, the 32-year-old outfielder who has most recently played for other AL Central teams such as the Kansas City Royals and the Chicago White Sox. After a great 2016 with the White Sox (.296/.345/.455, wRC+ of 116), he split his time last season between Chicago and KC and had somewhat of a down year (.285/.324/.423, wRC+ of 98). He did, however, hit 17 home runs, a total he has only reached once when he hit 18 in 2011.

The problem is that he’s an absolute hazard in the outfield. He’s not fast enough to play in center field, so he’s relegated to the corners. His bat isn’t good enough for the corners, and his defense is awful regardless of whether he’s in left field or right field. Last season, for example, he had an overall UZR/150 of -11.4 and had a -20 DRS rating. For someone to be that bad in the outfield, they better make up for it with an explosive bat, which Cabrera does not.

LGT user realmccoy pointed out that Melky has a career slash of .312/.356/.529 (over 239 plate appearances) at Progressive Field, so maybe this had something to do with it. The more likely option is that Cabrera is going to be stashed in AAA as depth for when one of Brantley/Zimmer/Naquin/Davis/Chisenhall/Guyer get hurt. With Chisenhall already on the DL, the Indians are one injury away from needing another outfielder, and Melky Cabrera may play that role in the near future.