Melky Cabrera a “fallback option” for the Orioles

So how do you feel about Melky Cabrera?

I’m just curious, since I’ve heard from multiple people that he’s a “fallback option” for the Orioles if they can’t re-sign Nick Markakis. His name has been discussed. He’s on the radar, as the kids say.

MelkyCabreraSidebar.jpgCabrera’s 50-game suspension after testing positive for testosterone occurred two years ago, one month after he was named Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game. If the Orioles were able to overlook Nelson Cruz’s suspension, signing him to a one-year, $8 million deal in spring training, they should be fine with Cabrera’s transgression.

The feeling may not be universal in the organization - I remember one person suggesting that the National League surrender home-field advantage in the World Series in 2012 - but Cabrera does have his supporters.

The Blue Jays signed Cabrera to a two-year, $16 million deal. He had to “settle” for $16 million due to the suspension. We should all be so fortunate.

What’s the appeal with Cabrera? He’s a 30-year-old switch-hitter with a career .339 on-base percentage. The Orioles’ OBP over the past five seasons has been .316, .316, .311, .313 and .311.

Cabrera was batting .346/.390/.516 in 113 games with the Giants before his suspension. He hit .301/.351/.458 in 139 games with the Jays this summer and .293/.340/.421 over his two seasons.

Markakis’ power numbers are in decline, but he owns a career .358 OBP in nine seasons with the Orioles. If he bolts as a free agent - and I still believe that the Orioles will re-sign him - the need for an on-base guy grows significantly.

The Blue Jays may not have interest in Cabrera after signing catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract. CBSSports.com added the White Sox to the list of teams in the hunt.

The Orioles would have to surrender a draft pick to sign Cabrera, but they could gain one if Cruz signs with another team. Also, Cabrera is projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to net a five-year deal worth close to $70 million.

For now, we’ll label Cabrera a “fallback option” while monitoring how the Orioles conduct business with their own free agents this winter.

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