Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why Orlando Cabrera Is Still Unsigned

Last winter, free agent SS Orlando Cabrera struggled badly to find suitors for his services. The reason? Cabrera was a Type A free agent and no team wanted to surrender a first round pick for his services. Cabrera eventually signed a one year/$4 million dollar contract with the Athletics in March that ensured that if Cabrera was a type A free agent again next winter, that the team could not offer him arbitration. The reasoning behind this move was obvious: Cabrera and his agent figured that if teams did not have to surrender a draft pick for Cabrera that he would have a better chance to land a multi year deal.

Despite putting up solid offensive numbers with the Athletics and Twins in 2009, the market for Orlando Cabrera this winter has been very quiet. Why? Maybe Cabrera's demands are excessive. Maybe not enough teams are looking for a shortstop. Maybe teams are shying away from Cabrera because of his low OBP. All of those could very well be the reason why.

But I think the main reason why Orlando Cabrera remains unsigned right now is because of his defense. Teams have begun to emphasize defense and the importance of defensive statistics this winter, and Cabrera's 2009 defensive stats were horrific. According to fangraphs, Cabrera's UZR last season was a staggeringly bad -13.7, which represents a sharp decline in Cabrera's defense from 2008 (13.1). Because of his terrible defense, it's easy to see why teams would shy away from Cabrera despite his production at the dish.

Even though Orlando Cabrera is no longer hamstrung by his Type A status like he was last winter, his struggles defensively have hindered his free agency this winter.

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