The Chicago White Sox continue to prove that they intend to win it all in 2015. After some major moves before and during the Winter Meetings, they have just begun the "after" phase with another big splash. MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that the White Sox have agreed to terms on a three-year contract with switch-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Merkin reports that the contract is worth $43.5 million, making the average annual value $14.5 million. As of 3:00 Sunday morning, though, the team had not confirmed the contract.
Cabrera is CBS Sports.com's #4 costless agent position player. He earned that ranking with a hitting record of .301/.351/.458, 16 HR, 73 RBI, and 3.1 WAR. His run producing numbers are exactly the same as those of #3 costless agent Pablo Sandoval, who signed with the Boston Red Sox for five years and $95 million a few weeks ago. With the agreement, eight of the top 10 costless agent position players are now off the board. Only third baseman Chase Headley (#7) and shortstop Jed Lowrie (#10) remain.
Cabrera adds a number of assets to the White Sox' lineup. First, he adds offense. The numbers show just that. In addition to the runs he drives in, he also scores his share. Cabrera scored 81 times in 2014 even with big boppers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who hit behind him, each out of the lineup for much of the season.
Next, he adds durability. Cabrera has averaged 133 games for the past six years. That record includes his 50-game suspension for PED use in 2012, two long-term DL stints due to knee inflammation in 2013, and broken fingers to end the 2014 season.
Third, he helps eliminate the lefty/righty matchup problems common late in games. As a switch hitter, Cabrera is effective from both sides of the plate. In 2014, he hit .276 with 5 HR and 20 RBI in 152 right-handed at bats. He was even better batting left-handed: .310, 11 HR, 53 RBI in 416 at bats.
Merkin projects Cabrera to bat second behind lead-off man Adam Eaton. Those two at the top should provide plenty of RBI opportunities for young slugger Jose Abreu, the 2014 A.L. Rookie of the Year, and new 1B/DH Adam LaRoche. Coupling that new-look offense with the revamped rotation that includes Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija and the addition of closer David Robertson, and the White Sox should make some serious noise in the A.L. Central in 2015.