Despite defensive shortcomings, Asdrubal Cabrera is ready to be a versatile option for the Mets
The Mets haven’t sought to simply plug holes ahead of what they hope is a championship season in 2016.
The front office has sought to plug their holes by creating quality depth and versatility throughout their roster, and having 13-14 players who can start for them without any doubt for 162 games.
That task led them to signing Asdrubal Cabrera during the winter meetings. He comes without flash and flare by most hot stove standards, but the Mets believe that not only is he an upgrade to Wilmer Flores at shortstop, but he can also create such depth and versatility by shifting Flores into that super-utility infielder role, which should garner him plenty of at-bats against left-handed pitching while also having him fill-in for David Wright when he is given days off.
But in a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Cabrera said he can also be that versatile player the Mets seek, if they want him in that role, even though he has only played in one game at third base during his career.
“Whatever the team needs,” the new Met said. “I think if you can play shortstop, you can play second or third base, I’m going to wait to spring training to see where they want me to play. I’m going to do my best.”
While Cabrera doesn’t walk very much and strikes out more than is desired, the primary concern with Cabrera is indeed his defense. He has shown a slowdown in foot speed and reduced range over the last several seasons, reducing his effectiveness at a premium position on the diamond.
As such, Cabrera will need to do his part to prevent runs behind his groundball-producing staff. That includes showing improved range but also pairing with Neil Walker to do a better job of turning double plays than the club did in 2015.
Fortunately for Cabrera and the Mets, Walker has been one of the better second basemen in the league at turning such double plays in recent years.
Still, the Mets still clearly viewed Cabrera as an upgrade in stability in a market that lacked quality and value at the position. The club is expecting Cabrera produces close to his .740 OPS, and 105 OPS+ over nine big league seasons, with hopes he begins to resemble the player he was defensively several seasons ago.
“They’re a really good team,” Cabrera said about these Mets. “Great city to play baseball, and they are winning. They won the National League last year and they were in the World Series, too.”
One of the draws for Cabrera was the Mets starting pitching staff, and he believes that alone gives the Mets a great chance to achieve their goal of a championship in 2016.
“They’re great,” Cabrera said about the Mets rotation. “We got one of the best starting pitching in the league. We can win this year, too.”
Certainly, if Cabrera holds up his end of the bargain.