Melkly Cabrera is officially slated to make his Cleveland Indians debut tonight against the Houston Astros. Earlier today, the Indians selected his contract and optioned reliever Evan Marshall (who you already forgot about) and designated Alexi Ogando for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
By pure coincidence, I don’t think the Indians could have brought their newest outfielder up in a more pressure-field game in May. It’s Since last October and he’s playing on Sunday Night Baseball, against the Astros, facing Lance McCullers.
They’re also starting him in right field, and he’s not exactly what you’d call a defense standout. I’m not sure what exactly you’d call a career -37 defense runs saved as an outfielder, but it’s not great.
There’s a solid chance his bat is an upgrade over the Indians’ other lefty options right now, though. The 33-year-old journeyman doesn’t have a huge split either way, but he’s been a consistently average hitter throughout his career, culminating in a 99 wRC+ against lefties and a 104 wRC+ against righties. Conversely, Rajai Davis is not a good hitter anymore and Lonnie Chisenhall is still on the disabled list.
Even as late as last season Cabrera managed to hit 17 home runs and he’s not a guy that strikes out a lot (11.9 percent over his career), so it’s clear why the Indians were willing to risk basically nothing on a minor-league deal to bring him in.
Now, on about as big of a stage as you can possible get in mid-May, the Indians will see if they caught lightning in a bottle, even if it’s just for one nationally broadcasted night.