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MLB MLB PlayoffsSan Francisco Giants

What will the future hold for Melky Cabrera and the San Francisco Giants?

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Melky Cabrera is officially off the San Francisco Giants post-season roster.  Bruce Bochy made the announcement following the Giants series finale against the Diamondbacks last Thursday night.

“We have decided not to send Melky on a rehab assignment because we do not intend to add him to any playoff roster,” Bochy said.  “We had to make this decision early because Melky would have to start rehabbing in Arizona.  we have decided to develop our roster from our current group of players.  They’ve done a terrific job during the critical part of the season.  We have informed Melky’s agent and they understand.  I just like the way this club has played down the stretch and moved on.  so we’re going to move forward without Melky.”

While San Francisco has settled the dispute between Cabrera and the front office, it still remains to be seen whether the Giants would welcome the 28-year-old switch hitter back next year.  Cabrera will enter free agency following the Giants post-season and neither Cabrera or the Giants have breached the subject.  However, the team still has a five day window in which they have the exclusive rights to negotiate a deal with the outfielder before other teams can enter into the mix.

Should the Giants offer Cabrera a deal?

Cabrera is still a solid outfield acquisition for any team.  In his career, he has posted a .284/.338/.414 slash line, making him a reasonable commodity on the open market.  Furthermore, his tarnished reputation will elicit few offers from other teams, dropping his price tag to a minimum veteran contract.  If the Giants look to free agency for another outfielder, they’d pay a drastically higher price for someone with the same production.   The slew of potential free agents that produce relatively the same statistical value of Cabrera during his drug-free 2011 campaign are as follows: Delmon Young ($6.7 million), Atlanta’s Michael Bourne ($6.8 million), Los Angeles’ Shane Victorino ($9.5 million).  Quite the price tag for a mediocre outfielder. Otherwise, the Giants would be stuck with Cabrera’s left-field replacement,` (.243/.328/.344), who hasn’t produced a single home run this year.

However, Cabrera is still a liability in many respects.  First, his presence in the Giants clubhouse would bring a continuous cycle of media distraction.  More questions would be directed at Cabrera during the offseason than about the team’s trajectory.  Secondly, Giants fans (me included) won’t welcome back Cabrera with open arms.  At least, not so quickly.  His tarnished reputation will forever precede him in San Francisco, and it will take a long and drug-free season to win back his “Melkmen” fans.

Will Cabrera come back?

Cabrera has openly stated that he would return to the Giants, if he is welcome back this year.  After the Giants’ decision to leave him off the team’s post-season roster, Cabrera felt it best not to argue the decision.

“While I am disappointed that I won’t have the chance to join my team in the playoffs, I wish my teammates the best in the postseason and I’ll be rooting hard for them to bring another world championship to San Francisco!” Cabrera said in a statement.

Through it was through a statement, Cabrera does seem genuinely interested in righting his wrongs and redeeming himself in a San Francisco uniform.  Almost like quarterback Alex Smith did for the San Francisco 49ers last season, signing at a significantly reduced rate in order to prove his worth to the legions of Bay Area sports fans.

On a side note, Cabrera does still have a stake in the Giants postseason.  First, if San Francisco can push past the first round, Cabrera’s suspension would be lifted by the beginning of next year.  If the Giants get bounced in the first round in less than five games, Cabrera would still be shelved for the remaining one or two games next season, carrying with him the stank of his performance-enhancing drug scandal through the offseason.

Secondly, Cabrera could be entitled to a very large share of the Giants postseason financial gain.  If San Francisco were to play more than nine games, Cabrera would make a prorated share (about 72 percent) of the financial winnings of the team, recouping part of the $1.7 million he lost in salary for his suspension.

While the Giants have still yet to make a decision on their All-Star outfielder, it’s interesting to speculate.  The Giants could still benefit from Cabrera’s presence, at a drastically reduced price mind you.  If the Giants were smart, they’d extend a competitive, albeit affordable, offer to Cabrera.  One that would leave them the financial flexibility to go after another free agent if Cabrera were to fold under the pressure next year.  I’d say, it’s a small risk with a sizable reward.