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Yankees Potential 2015 Free Agent Target: Melky Cabrera

A familiar face is available for 2015. Could he bring some needed pop to the Yankees batting order?

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Statistics: 621 PA, .301/.351/.458, 16 HR, 125 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR

2015 Age: turns 31 8/11

Position: Switch-hitting corner outfielder

It's been a long, winding road for former Yankees farmhand Melky Cabrera. Since being traded for Yankees pariah Javier Vazquez, Cabrera has: nearly won a batting title, been suspended for PEDs and dealt with a frightening spinal tumor. After those ups and downs, Cabrera managed to emerge out on the other side and himself a very nice season in 2014.

Cabrera has established himself as not much of an outfielder, posting a negative UZR every season since 2009. But his natural hitting ability shined through again in 2014 as he batted above .300 with sufficient enough pop for a corner outfielder. Cabrera doesn't walk much, but his sweet stroke has proven to be enough to stay as a plus bat most years. His 2013 was a lost campaign, but chalking that up to his spinal issues would be more than reasonable.

The thought of a bat-first, switch-hitting non-fielder with Carlos Beltran still on the roster might seem redundant, but an important distinction is that Melky can actually physically play the field and will only be 30 when the 2015 season begins. There's not a lot of options in free agency that are both good hitters and non pure designated hitters, and Cabrera can be counted as one of them. Steamer projects him as having a 118 wRC+ next year, which would have made him a titan in last year's Yankee lineup.

Cabrera does have draft pick compensation attached, so that is a consideration. Early predictions have him getting as many as five years in a deal, so there might not be much of a discount for his PED issues or down 2013 season. The tight confines of right field in Yankee Stadium could help limit his range issues out in right field, and the Yankees could obviously use his bat. I would not be surprised if the Yankees made contact in some capacity with Cabrera and his people during the offseason.

My gut tells me that the Yankees still see Beltran as their de facto outfielder and that will be a sticking point in deciding to commit to Cabrera or any other top-tier outfielder free agent. That might seem like a silly thing to do when the player is near 40 and looked like he was made of stone last year, but giving up on a guy less than halfway through a deal would be pretty surprising and wasteful. But if the Yankees miss out on upgrades in the infield, forcing the DH tag on Beltran and signing Cabrera would be one of the better opportunities to give the offense a jolt.

Time will tell if the market for Cabrera stays sane enough to give the Yankees some interest. If Cabrera starts ascending towards the 5 year/70-80 million mark, I don't think the Yankees pay much mind. It's hard to tell what the Yankees plan is these days though, so any signing wouldn't be a true shock.