Posted on January 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Texas Rangers have a big hole to fill at third base with Adrian Beltre retiring after last season. However, they appear to have found Beltre’s replacement, at least for now. On Tuesday, the Rangers agreed to a one-year contract with veteran Asdrubal Cabrera worth $3.5 million. Cabrera is expected to play third base for the Rangers in 2019.
Of course, Cabrera has spent a majority of his career as a shortstop, logging over 9,000 innings there in the big leagues. However, at age 33, his days at short are all but over. Cabrera began playing primarily second base with the Mets in 2017. He also spent a fair amount of time playing third base last season after being traded to the Phillies. While his range isn’t what it used to be in his younger days, Cabrera is still reliable with the glove and should have enough arm strength to be a viable third baseman for the Rangers.
At the moment, the Rangers have few other options at the hot corner, especially after trading Jurickson Profar to Oakland earlier this offseason. Journeyman Patrick Wisdom and young utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa were penciled in at third base before Cabrera’s name surfaced. There are also no third base prospects in the Texas farm system who will be knocking on the door of the big leagues any time soon. Unless the Rangers wanted to shoehorn Joey Gallo at third base, they would have to fill Beltre’s spot from outside the organization. Without wanting to spend much money, Cabrera should be a good fit for the rebuilding Rangers.
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Offensively, Cabrera still brings plenty to the table. Between the Mets and Phillies last season, he hit .262 with an OPS of .774. Cabrera has also hit 23 home runs in two of the last three seasons, still showing plenty of power as he moves deeper into his 30’s. Obviously, he’s not going to make the same kind of impact Beltre did throughout most of his career. But Cabrera has yet to show any signs of slowing down. He should be able to provide Texas with solid if unspectacular production at third base.
In the event the Rangers stumble across a third baseman or want to move Gallo back to that position, Cabrera would fit well as a versatile backup infielder. He could also be used as a temporary fill-in for either Rougned Odor at second base or Elvis Andrus at shortstop. If he continues to produce offensively the way he has in recent years, Cabrera could also become a useful trade chip for the Rangers late in the summer.
Obviously, adding Cabrera isn’t a flashy signing that will suddenly turn Texas into a contender inside the AL West. However, considering the money they’re paying him, Cabrera is an excellent pickup for the Rangers. He brings a veteran presence, consistent offensive production, and a fair amount of defensive versatility. For a team that wants to be as competitive as possible without making any long-term financial commitments, Cabrera may be the perfect fit for the Rangers heading into the 2019 season.