The Toronto Blue Jays and their GM, Alex Anthopoulos, obviously mean business in the AL East. Earlier this week, they answered the ad for the most recent Miami Marlins fire sale, adding several huge names — Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle — in a trade for some prospects. On Friday, a report from ESPN Deportes broke the news that free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera was headed to Toronto for $16 million over two years.
(Here's the original report in Spanish, which brings to light that "Blue Jays" translates to "Azulejos." The Jays should pick a day and wear Azulejos jerseys for a day. Just a thought.)
Of course, given that Cabrera in 2012 missed 50 games for the San Francisco Giants, plus the playoffs, because of a drug suspension, his signing brings to mind at least one question: Which Melky are the Jays getting? Whole? Two percent? To what degree did PEDs help Cabrera, a below-average hitter and don't-ask outfielder for the first five years of his career? Did they just help him get into shape after he realized he was throwing away millions of dollars in future earnings? Or did little steroid faeries push his bat faster through the strike zone?
Cabrera was batting .346/.390/.516 in 501 plate appearances when he got popped. An intervention by commissioner Bud Selig wrangled the batting title from Cabrera, who became persona non grata around the Giants as they rambled to a second World Series title in three seasons. Teammates never said anything on the record about Cabrera, but privately many were upset with him leaving them high and dry without much of an explanation or apology.
And then there was the fake website (for which Cabrera and his people were exonerated) that sought to help create a defense for his positive test. Not Melky's fault or his agents', apparently, but it gives the impression that he's surrounding himself with people who aren't good for him.
But the awful ending to Cabrera's otherwise great season and the questions it raised obviously hasn't dissuaded the Jays from taking a shot with a player who has gone from underachiever to All-Star game MVP and de facto batting champ. Interesting, too, that Cabrera settled on a two-year deal. Common wisdom would have seemed to be a one-year deal for $10 million with a chance to pass drug tests and show he's legit. But the Jays and Cabrera are committing to each other with this deal, and it figures Toronto just got even tougher to beat.
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