According to a report by sports radio host Greg Brady of Toronto's 590 AM station, the Tigers are showing interest in the Blue Jays' left fielder, Melky Cabrera. Brady tweeted a series of comments about the Tigers' apparent interest in Cabrera, but was quick to report that there were not any talks going on as of yet.
Hearing tonight Tigers' interest in Melky Cabrera is very, very real. Tigers would move JD Martinez to RF, Melky plays LF, Rajai CF.— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) November 12, 2014
Tigers likely don't go past 4 years for Cabrera - and may not need to. He's got a WS ring, so not exactly chasing. May be more $ elsewhere.— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) November 12, 2014
Not "reporting" it's happening, & Melky may not rush this, but many thought they're into him, and he IS into them. Tigers not into Rasmus.— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) November 12, 2014
Naturally, the news spread like wildfire on Twitter. Reddit had earlier tweeted that Toronto Blue Jays' general manager Alex Anthopolous had said that there was a good chance that Cabrera may not return to the Jays. It is worth noting that none of the big MLB writers -- Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman, and the like -- had picked up this rumor by the time we posted this article.
Cabrera has just rejected the Blue Jays' qualifying offer of $15.3 million for one season, meaning that if the Tigers were to sign him, Detroit would lose their own first round draft pick in next June's amateur player draft. However, the Tigers stand to gain one or two picks in the supplemental first round if Max Scherzer and/ or Victor Martinez sign with other clubs. Both players also rejected qualifying offers from the Tigers on Monday.
The 30 year old Cabrera is a switch hitting left fielder who hit .301 with a .351 on-base percentage in 2014. He also hit 16 home runs and drove in 81 RBI for the Jays. He is a career .286 hitter with a .754 OPS in 10 seasons.
Defensively, Cabrera is rated slightly below average at -6 defensive runs saved (DRS), and a -5.8 UZR for the 2014 season. He has played all three outfield positions, but has been limited mainly to left field in recent seasons. Cabrera has just finished a two year, $16 million contract with Toronto.
News that the Tigers are not interested in Colby Rasmus -- also tweeted by Brady earlier this evening -- will be music to the ears of most Tigers fans.
Cabrera is best known for his involvement with the drug scandal that resulted in twelve players being suspended for 50 games each for use of performance enhancing drugs. The former San Francisco Giants' outfielder had tested positive for PED's during the 2012 season and did not participate in the post season. The number of players involved grew during the 2013 season, and included Tigers' shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Cabrera would adequately replace Torii Hunter in the lineup, and would add another good bat with some improvement over Hunter defensively, but the Tigers would still need to find a platoon partner for Rajai Davis, who should neither be starting against right handed pitchers, nor playing center field on a full time basis.
Here is a comparison chart, just for fun.