The front office of the Seattle Mariners appears to have changed their reported stance on players with PED history as they introduced new designated hitter/outfielder Nelson Cruz at a press conference this week. And now as clubs get ready to meet in San Diego for the 2014 Winter Meetings, rumors are swirling that the club has heavy interest in outfielder Melky Cabrera.
Cabrera was caught up in a messy 2012 PED suspension that involved his representatives allegedly setting up a false website to try and cover the then Giants' outfielder's involvement with the supplier before finally admitting that he had used a banned substance, said to be testosterone. That caused him to miss out on a batting title and the club decided to have him sit out during their World Series run (although he did get a ring). It also caused his free agency as a 28-year-old coming off of two straight very good hitting seasons to sign a rather average deal with Toronto (two-years, $16m).
Now that deal is done, and a (presumably) clear Cabrera hit .301/.351/.458 in 139 games for the Blue Jays in 2014, leading him into this off-season as one of the most potent bats on the market.
There have been talks over the last few years that Melky didn't want to play on the West Coast. But like Cruz, Cabrera is said to be good friends with fellow Dominican Robinson Cano -- who seems to be playing the role as Seattle's free agent ambassador since arriving -- and Seattle may not be out of the question for him anymore. Cano and Cabrera were teammates and best friends with the Yankees, but New York dealt Cabrera away after 2009, right before Cano really took off and turned himself into one of the elite offensive talents in baseball.
Now Seattle has the potential to reunite Cabrera and Cano and finish off what would be a huge off-season in terms of adding to the lineup. If Cabrera were added to the mix, Seattle would have among the most formiddable lineups in baseball from 1 through 5 with Austin Jackson, Cabrera, Cano, Cruz and the recent $100m man Kyle Seager. Those five combined to hit .282/.342/.448 in 2014.
Melky is said to be looking for a contract comparable in annual dollars to what Seattle paid Cruz, possible with a fifth year on it. Seattle is said to be interested and willing to spend, but will they be willing to go that long for that many dollars? And even if they are willing, will they be able to land Cabrera? We could see the answer to that question this coming week.
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