Blue Jays take chance on Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera hits a home run during the MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.,...

Melky Cabrera hits a home run during the MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., July 10, 2012. (JONATHAN DANIEL/Getty Images/AFP)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

TORONTO - Released in Atlanta, banned in San Fran, ladies and gentleman playing left field for YOUR Toronto Blue Jays ...

Melky Cabrera.

The Jays have signed free-agent Cabrera to a two-year contract, pending a physical, according to ESPNdeportes.com. He could earn up to $16-million.

The San Francisco Giants outfielder had a roller coaster season in 2012: MVP of the all-star game in Kansas City, suspended 50 games for a positive drug test on Aug. 15, missed the final 45 games of the regular season and the Giants chose not to activate him for post-season on their way to winning the World Series.

Cabrera’s urine test in July showed elevated levels of testosterone. His second sample was sent to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal where a carbon isotope ratio test showed synthetic testosterone.

The Blue Jays were not the only AL team ready to give Cabrera a second chance.

Signed by Carlos Rios and Mark Newman with the New York Yankees, he was dealt in 2010 to the Atlanta Braves where he tailed off and was released, had a breakout year with the Kansas City Royals in ’11 and was dealt to the Giants.

“Our top guys liked him a lot. Mind you, we had dissenting voices in the room, too,” said one executive. “He’s a guy with a chance to rebound. You figure he’s going to be clean because he’s going to be tested more often than a normal guy. The Jays are taking some risk, but it’s a low gamble, a good one.”

The evaluator predicted that Cabrera would not hit .346 as he did with the Giants this season, but would be “close to .300 with maybe 10-12 home runs.”

After his positive test, Cabrera apologized in a statement, disqualified himself from the National League batting title as he finished seven points up on Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen.

Had he not tested positive he likely would have been looking at a five- or six-year offers for $10- to $12-million per year.

What kind of player will the Jays have, once the physical is passed?

Cabrera, as a young Yankee living the good life in New York with his pal Robinson Cano?

Cabrera scuffling, as he did in Atlanta?

Cabrera, hitting line drives to the gaps, batting .305 at Kauffman Stadium?

Or, Cabrera as a Giants all-star?

“When we discussed him, we thought that he was no longer the guy he was in Atlanta. He didn’t come into camp in shape and was buried,” said one executive. “And he’s not the same young kid he was when he broke in with the Yankees at 21.

“He realizes what it takes, how much work is involved. But he’s not a high-end self-starter. He needs to be surrounded by the right people. You have to have someone hit him fly balls every day and someone, whether it’s Jose Bautista, the manager or a coach, has to take him under his wing.”

That’s assuming of course the Jays hire a manager to manage their payroll which is now climbing to a record-level heights of $120-million.

Now, with Bautista in right, Cabrera in left, with Emilio Bonifacio on the bench with Anthony Gose either at triple-A Buffalo or on the bench, is it easier for the Jays to move Colby Ramus?

We’ve also heard that teams are interested in the recently re-acquired John Buck. Could Buck be on the move again, rather than J.P. Arencibia, in Mike Napoli fashion? Thanks for the physical.

The problem with moving Arencibia is that the Jays would then have Buck and either Dunedin’s own Bobby Wilson and prospect Travis d’Arnaud.

While Arencibia spent two years at triple-A Las Vegas, d’Arnaud spent half a season at Vegas before suffering a season-ending injury.

Since shortstop Jose Reyes was in Dubai on Tuesday when that mega-trade with the Miami Marlins was completed, all 12 physicals of players involved in the Jays-Marlins deal did not arrive at the commissioner's office in New York to be reviewed until late Friday afternoon.

A formal announcement isn’t likely on the weekend.

That means the Marlins trade, the Cabrera press conference and maybe even a new manager could all come next week ... Grey Cup week.

The Jays may have trouble booking a room, never mind a TV camera as the 100th annual festivities kick off.

Are you ready for some football?


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