Posted on November 3, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Mets have gotten their offseason underway by picking up the option on veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. Rather than pay him a $2 million buyout, the Mets will welcome Cabrera back in 2018 for $8.5 million. Financially and baseball-wise it was a rather easy decision for the Mets. Cabrera had a public feud with the Mets and requested a trade earlier this year when he was removed as the everyday shortstop. However, cooler heads prevailed and after the Mets declined to make Cabrera part of their August fire sale, it’s obvious that he’s in the team’s plans for 2018.
“Asdrubal can help us all around the infield,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The season didn’t end the way we wanted, but that didn’t stop him from playing hard right to the very last out of the season. Asdrubal is a great tutor to our younger players and a leader in the clubhouse. We’re happy to have him back.”
Despite enduring multiple DL stints in 2017 because of a sprained thumb, the soon-to-be 32-year old Cabrera hit .280 with an OPS of .785. Those numbers are above average comapred to his career numbers.
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The Mets no longer view him as an everyday shortstop with top prospect Amed Rosario coming up late in the season. However, Cabrera is likely to serve as both a backup and mentor to Rosario in 2018. Despite initial unhappiness when he was moved off of shortstop, Cabrera appears willing to play that role in 2018.
“This is where I wanted to be,” Cabrera said in a statement Friday. “I experienced the postseason with the Mets in 2016, and that’s where I want to get back to this year. I’m open to playing anywhere. I just want to help.”
It’s quite possible that Cabrera will still be able to be an everyday player in 2018. He’ll just have to do it at either third base or second base. He started 32 games at second base and 40 games at third base for the Mets in 2017. He performed much better defensively at both spots than he did at shortstop early in the season. The Mets appear to be comfortable with Cabrera getting regular playing time at either position.
Of course, the Mets are expected to address either second base or third base through free agency this winter. Whatever move they make could force Cabrera toward one position or the other. It’s also possible that Wilmer Flores could challenge to be the regular at either second base or third base. The Mets have also not closed the door on re-signing Jose Reyes, another player who could push for playing time at multiple infield positions.
What exactly Cabrera’s role will be in 2018 remains unclear. However, his versatility, veteran leadership, and steady production will make him an important piece of the puzzle. His days of being an everyday shortstop in the big leagues are behind him, but there’s no reason why Cabrera can’t continue to be a key contributor for the Mets in 2018.