According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox did not pursue free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera before the 28-year-old reached a two-year, $16 million agreement with the Blue Jays on Friday (a deal first reported by ESPNDeportes.com).
Cabrera put up huge numbers in 2012 before his season came to an end due to a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. He hit .346 with a .390 OBP, .516 slugging percentage and .906 OPS in 113 games for the Giants before his suspension. Prior to his tremendous 2012 season, he had a career line of .275/.331/.398/.729 in parts of seven years with the Yankees, Braves and Royals. Cabrera turned 28 in August.
With his deal with the Blue Jays, Cabrera became the second prominent free-agent outfielder in recent days to sign with a club, joining Torii Hunter, whose two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers became official on Friday.
From a Red Sox perspective, given that the team needs two corner outfielders, the disappearance of a pair of options is a less-than-ideal occurrence. Still, the development is hardly surprising, given that Hunter appeared set on signing with either the Tigers or Rangers and Cabrera, according to one industry source, had narrowed the markets he was considering in his return from his suspension. So, the Red Sox were hardly surprised by the fact that neither player ended up with them. At the same time, the fact that Cabrera landed with a division rival — one that has already bolstered its roster with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle — suggests that the Sox have an even steeper challenge facing them with regards to a Toronto team that is solidifying an ever-deeper roster.
Even so, the outfield market was likely the area where the greatest wealth of options exists this offseason. Among free agent outfielders who remain on the board are Josh Hamilton (though Rob Bradford reports that the Sox’ interest in him is being overstated), Nick Swisher, Cody Ross, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan, Ryan Ludwick, Shane Victorino and others.
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