How will Melky Cabrera fare in free agency?

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Now this is going to be extremely interesting. Melky Cabrera spent two-thirds of the 2012 season as one of the NL’s 10-best players. Although he’s going to miss the final 46 games after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, he has a decent chance of winning the batting title given his current .346 average, with only Andrew McCutchen ahead of him at .359.

Cabrera was also plenty good with the Royals last season, hitting .305/.339/.470 with 18 homers, 87 RBI and 20 steals. That’s not at the level of this year’s .346/.390/.516 line, but it probably would have gotten a three-year contract worth $7 million-$8 million per year had he been a free agent then. Instead, he had to wait one more year.

Now Cabrera will head into free agency with All-Star numbers and a tarnished reputation. If the Giants make the playoffs and Cabrera shows early-season form in October, it could do wonders for his value. However, if the Giants miss the playoffs — as seems quite likely — then there’s nothing Cabrera can do between now and the winter to enhance his value. He wouldn’t even be able to play winter ball given his status as a suspended MLB player.

My thinking was that Cabrera was looking at something like $40 million-$48 million for four years as a free agent this winter. After all, he’s just 28 years old, making him something of a rarity — few quality position players hit free agency prior to turning 30. He’s not really being looked at as a center fielder any longer, but that was OK. There were other center fielders available anyway (Michael Bourn, B.J, Upton, Shane Victorino), and there will be more contenders looking for help in the corners than in center. Given his youth and his recent play, $10 million-$12 million per year seemed pretty reasonable.

Now there’s no way he’s getting that kind of contract. I imagine he’ll need to a take a one-year, make-good contract and then head back into free agency. He’ll still do well enough salary-wise — someone will risk $8 million-$10 million on him — but he’ll need to prove himself all over again in order to get a long-term contract.

Dustin Fowler is suing the White Sox over an outfield collision

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Tom Schuba of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Athletics outfielder Dustin Fowler has filed suit against the White Sox for negligence. Fowler sustained a season-ending injury during a collision at Guaranteed Rate Field last June and is also bringing the lawsuit against the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority agency, as neither party took measures to secure the ballpark’s unpadded electrical box that exacerbated his injuries.

The 22-year-old outfielder was just two outs into his major league debut with the Yankees when the incident occurred. Fowler tracked a Jose Abreu foul ball down the first base line and flipped over the short railing. He was noticeably limping after colliding with a knee-high electrical box at the wall and collapsed to the ground within seconds before being carted off the field.

The official diagnosis: a ruptured patellar tendon and season-ending surgery on his right knee. Per Schuba’s report, which can be read here in full, Fowler has claimed “‘severe and permanent’ external and internal injuries, as well as mental pain and anguish” following the collision.

No specific demands have been publicized yet. Fowler is said to be seeking money from both the White Sox and the Sports Facilities Authority, likely enough to cover the “large sums” he spent on medical care for the surgery and related treatments.