Jays might look at Everth Cabrera to play second base
The Jays have a new catcher, a new third baseman, a new first baseman, a new left fielder, and possibly a new second baseman, if Devon Travis, who came over from the Tigers for Anthony Gose, wins the job out of spring training. For all of general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ efforts, though, the keystone might still come down to a competition between Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis, and Steve Tolleson, if Travis—whose prospect stock varies depending on whose opinion you seek—fails to impress in Grapefruit League play.
Adding another veteran option with upside might thus be tempting. The Jays have some recent history of buying low on players with makeup concerns (Colby Rasmus) or performance-enhancing drug ties (Melky Cabrera), and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted Thursday that they might be prepared to go bargain hunting in the same bin.
If they do, they’ll find Everth Cabrera still waiting for a new home after being let go by the Padres on December 2nd. The 28-year-old is no ordinary free agent, and not just because he’s a year removed from a pair of three-win seasons. Cabrera’s 2013 season ended with a 50-game suspension for his connections to the Biogenesis scandal, and things haven’t gotten much better for the shortstop since then. He was stopped, arrested, and booked on suspicion of driving while under the influence of marijuana in September 2014; two months later, the district attorney slapped Cabrera with a resisting arrest charge that carries a maximum one-year jail sentence, though the DUI charge was dropped. And this isn’t the first time Cabrera’s run afoul of the law.
Complicating Cabrera’s free agency is the fact that his legal problems remain unresolved. His readiness hearing was postponed until March 23rd, so late in spring training that any club hoping to sign him would have no assurance that Cabrera will be available to take the field on Opening Day. Unless teams are willing to take that gamble, the switch-hitter might have to wait until his trial, set to begin on April 13th barring further delays, is over before he signs his next contract.
The Jays could be one of the teams willing to wait, after a year of dreadful production from the keystone and with the specter of another clouding what’s otherwise been an excellent offseason. A solid defensive shortstop, Cabrera could be even better at the less-demanding keystone if he transitions smoothly, though a lack of spring preparation could hinder that process.
Dan Duquette could bring a significant piece back to the Orioles
In other news from north of the border, reports surfaced recently that the Jays want to hire Dan Duquette away from the Orioles. O’s owner Peter Angelos responded to them on Wednesday, telling Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that the Jays could dream on. Well, apparently they’re still trying to strike a deal, and they might want Duquette badly enough to part with one of their most highly coveted prospects.
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted yesterday that Jeff Hoffman, the ninth-overall pick in the 2014 draft—and a possible no. 1 selection if he hadn’t needed Tommy John surgery—had been brought up in discussions between the AL East rivals. Our own Chris Mellen ranked Hoffman as the fourth-best prospect in Toronto’s system last month, placing him behind only Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, and Dalton Pompey, all of whom have already made their major-league debuts. The right-hander cannot be traded until June, but the Padres and Nationals have set a precedent for moving recent picks (Trea Turner) this offseason, and the Jays and O’s could follow a similar path.
With all of that said, and despite Angelos’ denials, it’s difficult to peg the likelihood of a trade involving Duquette. MASN’s Roch Kubatko followed up Olney’s tweet with word that no deal is “imminent,” nothing will happen over the weekend, and it’s possible that nothing will happen at all. But ESPN’s Jim Bowden heard differently. What we do know, courtesy of Olney, is that the return would probably be “substantial” if one goes down.
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