It's hard to believe that Orlando Cabrera made $10 million bucks last season. The former White Sox shortstop will be lucky to make half of that in 2009, if he is even signed before the season begins. And as we documented before, Cabrera's type A status has absolutely shredded his market because teams would have to give up a high draft pick (either 1st or 2nd round) in addition to the millions they would surrender for Cabrera.
In this economy, that is not a good combination.
Here we are on February 17 and Cabrera remains unsigned with limited interest. His price tag has dropped quicker than Enron stock and people seem to have forgotten just how good a player Cabrera really is.
So that begs the question, just what kind of deal could be out there for Cabrera right now?
The answer is beyond simple: not a good one. The only team interested in Cabrera right now has been the Athletics, who usually hesitate to spend any money at all. If the Athletics sign Cabrera, they would have to surrender their second round pick because their first round pick is protected (#13 overall). That's actually a plus for Cabrera, since teams have refused to part with their first round pick...a second round pick might be more feasible for the Athletics given how deep their farm system is.
However, it's all downhill from there for Cabrera. The Athletics are in total control of the negotiations. If they do not sign Cabrera, they still have a pretty good option at shortstop with the oft injured Bobby Crosby. Cabrera is a luxury, not a necessity; therefore, the Athletics have full power to dictate his salary, which should be solely on their terms.
I would say that the best Cabrera should be able to do right now is something in the one year/$2-$4 million dollar range. When you consider that Bobby Abreu just signed with the Angels for a one year/$5 million, a minuscule salary should not be out of the question for Cabrera. Whoever gets Cabrera at that rate would be getting a huge bargain. Mark my words.
But if I was Cabrera's agent, I would hold off on signing a contract anytime soon. There is just no market for Cabrera right now and his only opportunity to build a market for himself is to wait for either an injury to occur, a disappointing season from a fellow shortstop, or for some GM to become desperate and throw a nice chunk of change at Cabrera. All three of those options are going to happen at some point. Patience is the hard part.
It's gotta be tough for Cabrera to be sitting around and waiting for any team to suddenly become interested in his services. However, this late in the off season, not much is likely to change. But I'm sure Cabrera will be rewarded down the road if he stays patient and does not jump at some ridiculously low offer.