It is well known throughout the baseball world that the New York Mets possess one of the top shortstop prospects in the entire league. His name is Amed Rosario, and he is expected by many to possibly reach the big leagues by the end of 2017. Until then though, the Mets will have a completely capable shortstop to fill the gap between now and Rosario’s arrival. Signed by the Mets on December 15th, 2015, Asdrubal Cabrera will be the starting shortstop when the doors open on the 2017 season.
Last season, Cabrera posted a slash line of .280/.336/.474 while hitting 23 home runs and driving in 62 RBIs. While these numbers weren’t exactly up to the standard of what he produced in the 2011 season, when he was an All-Star for the first of two times, Cabrera still produced at a solid clip for the Mets. This should have the team feeling confident at the position not only for this season, but also seasons down the road. While many minds will be on Rosario this season, Cabrera should not be forgotten.
Cabrera may end up having a significant impact on the lineup this season. The fact that he is a switch-hitter makes him extremely valuable to the lineup. Also, last season, Cabrera batted in seven of the possible nine spots in the lineup, meaning he is well-versed in many potential situations at the plate. This could be crucial to the lineup with the return of Lucas Duda and David Wright possibly shaking things up. Last season, Cabrera also showed competency at the shortstop position last year, proving to be an exciting one-two punch on turning a double play.
Of course, when Rosario reaches the big leagues, he will be met with large fanfare and high expectations. But unless he is called up to replace Cabrera, he should not expect to be handed the starting job. Rosario will have to work hard to beat out the savvy shortstop. Cabrera showed last season that even at age 30, he still has range. For what it’s worth, Cabrera last season was the most consistent fielding shortstop the Mets have had since José Reyes was manning the helm at the position. Cabrera committed only seven errors last season, good enough for the third-least errors by a shortstop in all of the MLB. All of this success by Cabrera not only benefits the Mets, but it may also benefit Rosario as well.
In the case that Rosario does get called up before the season ends, he will be under the tutelage of two veteran shortstops. Both Cabrera and Reyes will be able to mentor and help further develop Rosario as a player. And while Cabrera would still likely start over Rosario, it would still be a great learning experience for the shortstop prospect. Both Cabrera and the Mets know that Rosario is the shortstop of the future. Cabrera should be commended for his hard work and effort that he put into the 2016 season, and for putting up the numbers that he did. Should Cabrera have a similar season this year, the Mets will have made a great two-year investment. And if he falters, the Mets can simply give Wilmer Flores more opportunities or bring up Rosario to play. Up to this point though, Cabrera has been a fantastic bridge from the shortstops of the past few seasons to the shortstop of the future, Rosario.