This past summer, when the Washington Nationals traded Zach Walters and cash to the Cleveland Indians for infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, Mike Rizzo was hoping that Cabrera’s bat would be the final piece to a World Series puzzle. An October failure once again, the team is now left searching for answers at second base, but the big question is, did the Nats’ make the right decision in allowing Cabrera to walk away via free agency without as much as making Cabrera an offer to stay?
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While Cabrera’s power has remained consistent over the past couple of seasons, posting home run totals of 14, 14, and 16 over the past three, his batting average has continued to sink, along with his defense. While he only made one error at second base after the trade to Washington, his fielding percentage has gone down in each of the past five seasons, excluding a slight bump in 2013. Was he worth a multi-year deal given his plummeting numbers both in the field at at the plate?
The Rays, needing additional protection for Evan Longoria after dealing away Wil Myers to the San Diego Padres, handed Cabrera a one-year deal for $8 million. Were the Nats and Rizzo thinking along those lines? If so, they got beat to the punch. Then again, there’s the option of upgrading the position through the international market with someone such as Hector Olivera.
The Nationals probably made the right call in letting Cabrera walk away. He cost them next to nothing to acquire, and even less headaches or a bad contract had they re-signed him to a multi-year deal, only to watch him get worse by the season. While he isn’t old, a multi-year deal puts him on the wrong side of 30 by the time the contract expires, and he most likely won’t finish 2015 as a member of the Rays. Once the team is out of contention, Cabrera could easily be dealt to a contender to help the Rays continue their farm system reload.
With free agency looming for current Nats Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Rizzo is thinking big picture, and while double-digit home runs from a second baseman is nothing to scoff at, $10 million or more for several years, along with the regression at the plate and in the field is.