General manager Dayton Moore told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that the Royals are unlikely to sign Melky Cabrera to a long-term contract extension because the 27-year-old outfielder wants to test free agency following next season:
We’ll probably go a year at a time at this point, but he was a terrific player for us and we’re very proud of what he accomplished and we’d be very open to Melky being here long term. But I don’t see anything right now. I think he’s at a point in his career where he wants to look at things. He’s just a year away from free agency.
Cabrera had a very strong season, setting career-highs in batting average (.305), homers (18), doubles (44), RBIs (82), runs (109), steals (20), and OPS (.809). However, he’s just one year removed from a miserable season with the Braves and came into 2011 as a career .267 hitter with a .707 OPS. In other words, Cabrera might be doing the Royals a favor by not wanting to sign an extension coming off his best year.
He’ll get a big raise on this year’s $1.25 million salary via arbitration, but if the Royals still want to keep Cabrera long term he’ll likely be cheaper to sign after next season even if they have to out-bid other teams for him on the open market.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.