Blue Jays “willing to offer at least a three-year deal” to Melky Cabrera

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Earlier this month the Blue Jays admitted to starting contract talks with free agent Melky Cabrera and now Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that they’re “willing to offer at least a three-year deal” to the 30-year-old outfielder.

That’s quite a change from last time Cabrera hit the open market, when he managed only a two-year, $16 million contract coming off a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Back then he was coming off a career-year that included a .346 batting average and .906 OPS. This time around he hit .301 with an .808 OPS this season and struggled last season, but whatever negative stink Cabrera had attached to his name following the suspension seems to have mostly vanished. (Nelson Cruz is in a similar situation after leading the league in homers for the Orioles.)

Toronto will almost surely make the $15.3 million qualifying offer to Cabrera if they can’t re-sign him before then, guaranteeing draft pick compensation if he declines and signs elsewhere.