ORLANDO – The Toronto Blue Jays appear set to run with Melky Cabrera in left field in 2014 as he continues to make good and steady progress after having a benign tumour removed from his spine.
Cabrera – entering the final season of a US$16-million, two-year contract – struggled with leg issues during his first campaign with the Blue Jays, when he batted .279/.322/.360 with three homers, 15 doubles and 30 RBIs in 88 games.
His issues with mobility are believed to have stemmed from the tumour, which was removed in September.
Collectively, Blue Jays left-fielders ranked last in the American League in OPS (.667), home runs (10) and total bases (227), and were 10th in OBP (.309) and seventh in average (.259). As a result, observers saw left field as one place the team could upgrade over the winter, but right now Cabrera sounds like the guy.
“He looks great rehabbing, he should be fully recovered and doing extremely well,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said during a recent interview. “We expected that but he still has to go through the process. Right now he’s doing incredibly well and we expect him to be significantly better because we found the root of what some of the problems were ailing his legs.
“We expect him to come into spring training ready to go and have a great year for us.”
Some other rumblings and grumblings from the lobby at GM meetings in Orlando:
SIERRA TAKES GROUND BALLS: Outfielder Moises Sierra has been taking ground balls at first base with the Gigantes del Cibao, his winter league team in the Dominican Republic.
The Blue Jays would like to see if he takes enough to the position to become an option there on occasion with his power right-handed bat. Sierra is out of options and won’t likely clear waivers, so the Blue Jays are trying to make him as versatile as possible. He and Anthony Gose provide inexpensive options for a fourth outfielder next year.
DAVIS SEEKS PLAYING TIME: It doesn’t sound like free agent outfielder Rajai Davis is likely to return to the Blue Jays. Davis could earn $3-$4 million per season on the open market and is also believed to be seeking more playing time than the Blue Jays can promise him.
By using Sierra or Gose as opposed to Davis, the Blue Jays could save a significant amount of money that could be diverted to other priority areas like pitching, catching and second base.