It's been confirmed that they've reached a minor league deal with veteran switch-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera, who like many free agents this past winter went unsigned.
Cabrera, 33, must pass his physical for the deal to go through. He will get $1 million in base salary plus $1 million incentives if he's with the big-league club, but both sides are protected as he has an out-clause in the speculated contract.
If Cabrera passes his physical, he'll report to extended spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. He's expected to stay there for about a week and then report to Class AAA Columbus. From there it will be up to him on if and when he's promoted to the big leagues.
Cabrera has been working out in Tampa.
The Indians have a good read on Cabrera because he's spent the last three years playing against them with AL Central foes Chicago and Kansas City. Last year he hit .285 (177-for-620) with 17 homers and 85 RBI with the White Sox and Royals. Also potentially not lost on the Indians front office was Cabrera’s past performances at Progressive Field, where he’s 16-of-53 (.302) with three doubles in games played at Cleveland.
Cabrera will also help balance manager Terry Francona's lineup, which leans heavily to the left. Francona has said more than once that he's one switch-hitter short since Carlos Santana signed with the Phillies.
The Indians haven't received much production from their outfielders with the exception of Michael Brantley. While Brantley is hitting .320 (16-for-50) with one homer and eight RBI, Bradley Zimmer is hitting .236 (13-for-55) with one homer and three RBI, Tyler Naquin is hitting .268 (11-for-41) with one homer and four RBI, Brandon Guyer is hitting .129 (4-for-31) with two RBI and Rajai Davis is hitting .194 (6-for-31). Lonnie Chisenhall was hitting .235 (4-for-17) when he went on the disabled list with a strained right calf.
No promises have been made to Cabrera that he'll make the big leagues, but if he does, he's a corner outfielder. As long as Brantley is healthy, he's going to stay in left field, which means right fielders Naquin or Guyer could be in for some changes. Naquin has options left, while Guyer is in the second year of a two-year deal.
Cabrera has played 13 years in the big leagues.
Tribe left fielders rank fourth in the AL in batting average and OPS at .282 and .745, respectively. But they rank last in runs.
The center fielders rank 10th in batting average at .209, 12th in OPS at .562 and tied for 10th in runs with seven.
The right fielders rank 10th in batting average at .232, 12th in OPS at .535 and 14th in runs with five.