Well-traveled outfielder Melky Cabrera presents the entire MLB with an interesting conundrum. After four starting seasons in New York Yankees pinstripes and a year with the Atlanta Braves, Cabrera signed with the Kansas City Royals in 2011 and played the best baseball of his career up to that point. Melky hit .305 with 18 homers and 87 RBI with the Royals, before leaving for the West Coast. With the San Francisco Giants, Cabrera recorded a remarkable .346 average in 2012.
Shortly thereafter, Melky was caught and subsequently banned for 100 games for reported testosterone usage. He returned to play for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 after serving his suspension, and put up some rather unimpressive numbers in limited playing time. Sources in Toronto state that a tumor was found in Cabrera’s spine, which may have been limiting his mobility and causing (or, at least, contributing to) his poor performance. This non-malignant tumor has since been removed. Assuming that Cabrera will be healthy, teams around the league now have to decide of Melky can return to his former prowess without the help of PED’s.
Melky took to Andy Pettitte‘s strategy with his PED usage and humbly apologized to everyone involved, admitting all wrong and promising that the lesson was learned. He’s always come across as a guy with a good heart, and his statements seemed as genuine as they could be. He was well liked in Kansas City, both by fans and inside the clubhouse. The issue of PED’s and the players who are caught using them is full of moral ambiguity, ethical gray areas that force fans to respond to a completely new concern within their beloved sports. Melky and other athletes like him that have re-entered baseball after admitting their indiscretions are pioneers in this new era. With a genuine apology and a steady work ethic, Cabrera is one who could still be received warmly upon his return.
The Royals need more hitting to compete next year, and right field is a spot where they wish to upgrade. If KC wants to take a chance on Melky, it shouldn’t cost them very much. The thick veil of question marks surrounding Cabrera right now would make him a cheap acquisition. A few million dollars isn’t a lot to pay for a talented veteran that’s determined to prove his legitimacy while playing clean, so taking a chance on Melky is well worth the risk, especially for Kansas City.