"Cabrera will ideally play at a decent level for the first few months of the season and then the Royals will have an appealing chip at the deadline."
That's what I said about Cabrera on December 14th. Obviously I was really making a bold statement at the time. What I didn't forsee was Cabrerra playing at such a high level that it would be possible for the Royals to not receive an offer worth trading him. This is because I assumed that even if he played well, he wouldn't possibly play well enough to warrant a spot in the team's future.
But what has happened is that Melky Cabrera has posted a career year in 2011. He is currently hitting .296/.333/.459, has posted an wRC+ of 121 and the sixth best WAR among centerfielders with a 3.3 mark. He has been near average when it comes to defensive evaluations and his arm has been an absolute weapon.
The Royals have Cabrera signed a $1.25 million deal for 2011, so there is no pressing need to unload salary. But because of the way he has played this season the fact that he is under team control through 2012 has now became a much more important piece of information.
The most interesting part of this whole discussion is that the Royals have another outfielder that could be back in 2012 that is also exceeding expectations this season: Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur hasn't been nearly as strong as Melky has thus far, but if Royals fans had to bet on which would be back in 2012, I think virtually everyone would wager that Frenchy would be the guy to stay.
What is also critical is that the Royals have a guy in triple-A that absolutely needs to be in the Majors collecting at bats. Lorenzo Cain cameover from the Brewers and became the centerfielder for the future and thus far has done nothing to depress that belief. He has a .319/.385/.525 in Omaha and reports are that he makes spectacular defensive plays every night.
What I think is interesting is how Royals fans have a player performing at a high level in centerfield that could be back next season, yet most fans would prefer to hand the position over to a prospect. Yes the upside is higher, yes Cabrera is performing at a career high level. However, this is interesting nonetheless. Do you think that by next season Cain will be a top ten centerfielder? Because so far Melky has.
I want to see Cain playing centerfield. But Cabrera has performed at such a high level that the Royals absolutely not trade him unless they receive a deal that they believe fair. Cabrerra isn't like Wilson Betemit. The Royals don't have to deal him. For that reason the haul that the Royals bring in for Cabrerra should present enough upside for it to be obvious that it was the right decision.
The Phillies are rumored to have traded names with the Royals for Cabrera. What guys do you like? Who would it take for you to be happy with the deal? What kind of prospects?
But what if the Royals can't get fair value for Cabrera? What do you think they should do? What is the solution? Trade Francoeur? What if that isn't a possibility? Do you accept what you can get for Cabrera and move on? Or do you stick with your current outfield?
Let me know what you think Royal Nation. Hopefully this is only the first case of the Royals have multiple Major League ready players at one position.