The Jed Lowrie-Asdrubal Cabrera puzzle

There was an interesting piece in the New York Post over the weekend concerning former Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera, an unsigned free agent as of this writing, expressed the lament that he would have loved to come back to the Mets but he realized that would not happen after the team signed Jed Lowrie. Let’s examine some stats and background and see if we can determine if the Mets made the right decision.

Both players are versatile infielders, who are a bit long in the tooth. The 35 year old Cabrera is younger by about a year and a half. Lowrie signed a $20 million two year contract with the Mets, while Cabrera remains unsigned as of this writing, but it would seem that the Mets could have signed him more cheaply than they did in signing Lowrie..

The Mets do not have a true backup shortstop on their roster, and Lowrie may fill that role. Lowrie did play some shortstop earlier in his career, but he played zero games at short last year as well as 2017. The year 2014, when he played 130 games at short, was the last time he had significant playing time at that position. Cabrera played 31 games at short last year and 45 games in 2017. For most of his career he was an everyday shortstop.

Both players put up somewhat similar slash lines last year. In 157 games, Lowrie put up a .267/.353/.448 line, while Cabrera slashed .262/.316/.458 in 147 games. The edge goes to Lowrie there with the significantly higher OBP. Both players are pretty slow, neither of them stole a base last year. In Lowries’ whole MLB career, his personal best in SB for a season is only two.

Looking further into last years stats via the Baseball Reference splits tool, we can see the two players were successful clutch hitters. In high-leverage at bats, Cabrera hit .278/.349/.495, quite good. However Lowrie was even better in those clutch high-leverage at bats, posting an almost off the charts line of .315/.408/.541.

In many of these comparisons Cabrera has a slight edge, but that high leverage batting line Lowrie put up stands out, and if that was the key for GM Brodie Van Wagenen signing Lowrie over Cabrera, most fans would be okay with that.

However, ex-agent Van Wagenen has shown an affinity for reuniting with previous clients, such as Robinson Cano and Lowrie. If that fact had any significant role in Lowrie being signed, that could be troubling going forward as management favoring ex-clients of the GM would likely be divisive.

16 comments for “The Jed Lowrie-Asdrubal Cabrera puzzle

  1. Artie
    January 22, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Too bad Machado isn’t one of his old clients!

  2. Dallas
    January 22, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Didn’t Lowrie also play in Oakland where offensive numbers are greatly depressed?

    • Brendan Vachris
      January 23, 2019 at 1:08 am

      Citi Field isn’t the kindest to hitters as well, but one ballpark-adjusted stat is wRC+ and it gives a slight edge to Lowrie for 2018.

  3. January 22, 2019 at 9:30 am

    The fact that Cabrera wanted to come back is a good story and rings loud outside to other FA’s. The Mets are on the right track and he knows it. If the newcomers can each bring + WAR vs last year, the team could be a 90 win team and that could challenge for the division.
    I don’t see any more moves, but would like to see Mets get Gio Gonzalez.
    This would bring more stability for the rotation and ready itself for any potential missed starts or boo-boos by the other arms. Vargas is not that guy. Here is how Mets newcomers could improve the team from 77 wins to 90, with Diaz making the most impact, not blowing saves late. Also, not to mention Thor with more starts if healthy, but won’t speculate on starters health….been there, done that, for like 5 years straight.
    For now, assume they take most of their turns.

    Diaz +3
    Cano +2
    Alonso +1
    Lowrie +2
    Ramos +2
    Familia +1
    Cespedes +2 upon return – July-Sept

  4. January 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Lowrie is the much better defender and the slightly better hitter the Mets made the right choice.

    • Pal88
      January 22, 2019 at 11:22 am

      Yes, But for much more $$$s..the question is..since there’s not much of a difference between the two, was 20mil an overpayment?

      • John Fox
        January 22, 2019 at 11:40 am

        I agree about the overpayment potential, Pal, especially considering Lowries’ age.

      • January 22, 2019 at 12:22 pm

        If Lowrie was a few years younger gets a four year deal. He was a bargain contract coming off of two four war seasons

  5. Josh Greenfeld
    January 22, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Comparisons are fine but Cabrera already has played for the team and had some of his most consistent and best stats while with the Mets. So to disagree with Frank Sinatra, not everyone can make it here.Cabrera already has and it would be a shame not to sign him.

    • January 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

      There’s no room for him anymore and he just signed with Texas.

  6. January 22, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Cabrera just signed with the Rangers for less than five mil on a one year deal, it’s quite a bargain.

  7. BringBackDaveTelgheder
    January 22, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    When you’re doing an analysis like this and one guy plays about league average or slightly better defense and the other guy is so much like a statue it takes away most of his value it’s hard to take it seriously.

    • January 22, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Love the name and agree with your take.

  8. Eraff
    January 22, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    They liked Lowrie more. Lowrie has also played more games over the past two years.

    Cabs led the league in Wincing….Looks like a 45 year old in a Church League, but He’s a solid man on the field—I’ll miss him.

  9. MattyMets
    January 22, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    I love Cabby and I’ll miss him but his defense doesn’t come close in this comparison. I still don’t love the Lowrie signing and am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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