The Rays have signed free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year, $7.5 million contract, according to CBSSports.com, adding another name to a crowded infield picture. The deal has not been confirmed by the club.
A two-time All-Star with the Indians, the 29-year-old Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs last year for the Tribe and Nationals. Cabrera played shortstop almost his entire career before the trade, but he spent a lot of time at second base with Washington.
In parts of eight seasons in the Majors, Cabrera has hit .268/.330/.409 with 87 homers and 451 RBIs. He peaked in 2011-12, batting a combined .272/.335/.443 with impressive power (41 home runs) for a shortstop.
It’s unclear exactly where Cabrera fits in with the Rays, but his signing would seem to suggest another move is in the works. Tampa Bay appeared set to enter the season with Ben Zobrist at second base and Yunel Escobar at shortstop.
Given his production and defensive versatility, Zobrist would be one of the most attractive trade targets on the market if he’s made available, which means he would also demand the biggest return for Tampa Bay. He’s been linked to the Giants and Nationals, among others, in various rumors. Zobrist is set to earn $7.5 million in the final year of his contract with the Rays.
Escobar, meanwhile, is coming off a down year in which he hit .258/.324/.340 and saw his defense slip from the high level he played at in 2013. He will make $5 million next season and $7 million in 2016, with a $7 million option for ’17, as part of a contract extension he signed last year.
There is a scenario in which the Rays could hold on to Zobrist, Escobar and Cabrera, occasionally rotating Zobrist into the outfield or sitting Escobar against tougher right-handed pitchers. But it’s more likely they will look to trade one of their current middle infielders, and they have given themselves more freedom to do so by agreeing to sign Cabrera.