SAN FRANCISCO-- Theres no need to wait until the end of the 2012 season to declare thatGiants general manager Brian Sabean won the Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabreratrade. But the switch-hitting outfielder is an impending free agent so now itstime for Sabean to consider how much money and how many years it will take tokeep the fan favorite in San Francisco.Cabrera returned to his former home field at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas Cityfor the All-Star Game and earned MVP honors with a two-hit game, including atwo-run home run.The idea that Melkys All-Star Game MVP award will raise his asking priceis preposterous, however. His price tag will be determined by the amazing firsthalf hes had in his first season with the Giants and whether he maintains hisotherworldly level of performance in the second half.Cabrera is currently in the middle of a one-year, 6 million deal that hesigned with the Giants to avoid arbitration. While he will certainly be lookingat a sizable raise and new suitors, Cabrera recently said that hes open tostaying with San Francisco."I'm a free agent next year, but the Giants organization is treating mevery well," Cabrera said through a translator, according to MLB.com."So I would welcome staying with the Giants."Cabrera has only played on one-year contracts since his MLBcareer began in 2005, but will be looking at a lengthy deal after proving thathis 2011 season was no fluke with an even better start to 2012."I'd like to be on a team more than two or three years, like maybe therest of my career, and maybe in San Francisco, Cabrera said. The agentknows what I want, so he'll talk to the Giants."The agent, Dominic Torres, will engage in contractdiscussions with the Giants, Cabrera said in Kansas City.But where will discussions start, both in terms of years and dollars? WhenCabrera had an impressive first month of the season, Aaron Rowands contract offive years, 60 million seemed like a good starting point. But two monthslater, Cabrera is showing no signs of slowing down so 60 million would be abargain. Even the five-year length might be too short considering Cabrera is inhis baseball prime at age 27. Torres is well aware of Cabreras value and hisclient is well aware that what awaits him is more a business decision than apersonal one."This is a business," Cabrera said. "You have to be readymentally and physically to be on the move."Its tough to find good comparisons for Cabrera to get an idea of what type ofoffers he can expect on the open market. A highly touted prospect with theYankees, Cabrera was a disappointment in New York following two impressive seasons in 2006 and2007. He struggled with the Atlanta Braves in 2010, partially due to weightissues, then racked up 201 hits in his lone season with the Royals. So while Cabrera hasnt shown the consistency many GMs will be looking for, hislast season and a half, combined with his age, make him a very attractiveoption for teams in need of a solid defensive outfielder that can hit foraverage and some power and steal a base every now and then.One reference point is the Los AngelesDodgers Andre Ethier, who received a five-year, 85 million extension from theDodgers on June 12. Ethier is already 30, but has shown more consistencythroughout his career than Cabrera.If Cabrera can quiet concerns about his consistency with a repeat performanceof his first half down the stretch, he could be looking at a longer contractand more dollars than Ethier. A contract in the range of six-years and 100million seems fair, and a seven-year deal worth around 120 million is not outof the question if big spenders like the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels getinvolved. Dont count out the Dodgers either with a wealthy new ownershipgroup.The Giants will have some money to burn with a fewburdensome contracts coming off the books after the season. Aubrey Huff, who ismaking 10 million this season, is a sure bet to get a 2 million buyoutinstead of the Giants picking up his 10 million option for 2013. FreddySanchezs two-year, 12 million deal ends after the season and is unlikely toreturn. And Aaron Rowands bust of a contract runs out after this season, inwhich the Giants are paying him 12 million not to play in San Francisco.Based on Cabreras phenomenal performance in his so-far brief Giants career,but also considering his past struggles, what type of contract would you liketo see Brian Sabean offer?
What type of contract can Giants' Cabrera expect?
July 12, 2012, 9:56 pm