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Yankees Potential 2015 Free Agent Target: Asdrubal Cabrera

Could Asdrubal Cabrera replace Jeter at shortstop next season?

Thearon W. Henderson

2014 Statistics: .241/.307/.387, 14 HR, 97 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR

2015 Age: 29

Position: Shortstop

It is strange to think of someone other than Derek Jeter filling the role of Yankees shortstop, but we will finally experience that in 2015. Although they have known this was coming for several years, the Yankees do not have a prospect in the farm system waiting to take his place. It looks like next year's shortstop will be coming from the free agent market, and Asdrubal Cabrera could end up being Jeter's replacement.

After spending the majority of his career with the Indians, Cabrera was dealt to the Nationals in the middle of the season. He may not be an amazing defensive shortstop, but it's hard to think that he would not be an upgrade over Jeter, right? Well, Cabrera was the worst defensive shortstop in 2013. His 2014 defense was slightly worse than Jeter's too (-4.1 compared to -4.0). Even when looking at UZR/150, Cabrera's is worse than Jeter's over his career (-10.6 compared to -7.1). Cabrera spent part of his season playing second base for the Nationals, and thus spent less time at shortstop, yet still managed to make 14 errors there in only 93 games. His fielding percentage was only .964, which is fourth worst among shortstops who played over 800 innings in 2014. Though defense is notoriously difficult to measure, none of Cabrera's stats really bode well for a team that has seen a lot of balls roll into left field over the past few years.

There is not a very strong market for shortstops this season. With JJ Hardy off of the table because he unfortunately already reached a new deal with the Orioles, the main alternatives available include: Stephen Drew, Jed Lowrie and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez is very obviously the best hitter of the bunch, but he has seen several season's cut short due to injuries and he is no defensive wiz either. Jed Lowrie put up similar numbers to Cabrera this season, but he has experienced even more injuries than Ramirez, and Cabrera has the upper hand in terms of hitting for power. We've already seen what Stephen Drew can do, and while he had an incredibly poor season, he wasn't really allowed to play shortstop where he would be an asset defensively. The Yankees could probably sign Drew to a cheap contract, and it's likely that his offensive numbers would bounce back to around his career average, which would be comparable to Cabrera's 2014 numbers. Though I was not expecting to reach this conclusion, it might be a better move for the Yankees to re-sign Drew and pass on Cabrera. If they decide not to take that risk and are looking for a consistent hitter who may not be as good defensively, then Cabrera might be a good fit.