Keeping Cesar Cabral

Ivan Nova's Fastball Command Problem
3/13 Camp Notes: Nunez, Pitching, Bernie

For the second straight year, the Yankees have a pair of Rule 5 Draft picks in camp this spring. Right-hander Brad Meyers hurt his shoulder working out over the winter and is behind the other pitchers at the moment, so chances are he will eventually be jettisoned like Dan Turpen and Robert Fish last season. Left-hander Cesar Cabral has a legitimate opportunity to make the team though, plus there’s a chance the Yankees may be able to keep him even without placing him on the Opening Day roster.

Cabral, 23, has already appeared in five exhibition games this spring, the most of anyone on the team. He’s allowed two runs on eight hits in 5.1 IP, striking out three and walking zero. The problem is that he’s given up hits to six of the 14 left-handed hitters he’s faced, including one homer. Obviously a small sample, but he’s got to win a job with that small sample and he’s not getting it done at the moment. I ranked Cabral as the team’s 29th best prospect last month because I like his size (check the photo), performance (2.65 FIP in 194.2 IP last three years), and stuff (low-90s fastball, changeup, slurvy breaking ball). The Yankees obviously like him as well, otherwise they wouldn’t have worked out a pre-Rule 5 Draft trade with the Royals to get him (for an undisclosed amount of cash).

Because he’s a Rule 5 guy for the second time — the Rays took him last year — the rules apply a little differently to Cabral. Rather than be offered back to his original team (the Red Sox) if he fails to make the club, he can instead elect free agency and leverage that into remaining with the Yankees as non-Rule 5 Draft player. The Diamondbacks turned this exact same trick with former Yankees farmhand and two-time Rule 5er Zach Kroenke in 2010, as Nick Piecoro explains…

After the Diamondbacks decided they were not going to put Kroenke on their 25-man roster, they placed him on waivers. Kroenke cleared, which then meant, as a Rule 5 pick, he had to be offered back to the Yankees before he could be outrighted to the minor leagues.

But as a second-time Rule 5 player, Kroenke had the option to elect free agency rather than accept the outright back to the Yankees. He said he would have elected free agency, prompting the Yankees not to request him back.

At that point, he no longer had the rights of a typical Rule 5 player and instead became the equivalent of a normal 40-man guy on the Diamondbacks roster. The Diamondbacks then optioned him to (Triple-A) Reno.

Cabral and the Yankees have the ability to do the same thing Kroenke and the D’Backs did two years ago. The player benefits by remaining on the 40-man roster (going unclaimed on waivers is a pretty strong indicator that no other team would give him a big league contract as a free agent) while the team gets to keep him without restrictions. Cabral has all three minor league options remaining, so if nothing else the Yankees would be securing an up-and-down second lefty reliever for the league minimum through 2014. Not a star, but a potentially useful piece.

As I wrote this morning, there is some merit to carrying a second left-handed reliever early in the season because of the schedule. Some regular Triple-A innings wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for Cabral, who has yet pitch above Double-A and could use more time to figure out a breaking ball against same-side hitters. Clay Rapada or even Mike O’Connor probably makes more sense if the team decides to go with the second southpaw in April. Cabral has a nice, intriguing arm and is the kind of guy the Yankees should look into keeping beyond Spring Training. Clearing waivers is not a given, but otherwise the system works in their favor.

Ivan Nova's Fastball Command Problem
3/13 Camp Notes: Nunez, Pitching, Bernie
  • Cesar “Stairs” Cabral

    Gracias, Mike Axisa.

    The rest of you, I will shank you.

    • RetroRob

      No, no. Mike Axisa should be at the top of your list. He’s devining ways to return you to the minors!

      • Cesar “Stairs” Cabral

        Perdon. Fock you, Mike Axisa. I will do to you what I did to Adam Miller. Man cannot hit the side of a barn with a pitch after I was done with him.

  • Monterowasdinero

    Cabral, Rapada…whatever.

    Noesi pitching to Montero right now as we speak. 3 up 3 down in the first including Ryan Braun.

    • jsbrendog

      means nothing. irrelevant. off topic

    • jjyank

      Give it a rest man. You’re constant posts about Montero’s spring training are actually making me want to root against Montero and Noesi.

      • jjyank


        Grammar FAIL. My girlfriend (an English major) would not be pleased.

    • Mike Axisa

      If you don’t stop posting about Montero in every thread, I’m going to ban you. It’s off-topic and completely irrelevant to the Yankees. There are many perfectly fine Mariners blogs out there.

      • Monterowasdinero

        Sorry Mike. It has just been a bit boring with low participation threads the last week or two and I was trying to stir things up a bit.

        I’ll pay my fine and wait for the correct threads.

        • RetroRob

          If means anything (which it won’t!) I thought the Montero “updates” were funny because of your support of him in the past. There was nothing malicious about them. Yet that’s not the case with other people, so probably best to keep them to the open thread.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I second that. Off-topics, and need to keep things on topic as well, aside, Monterois/wasdinero is someone I greatly enjoy on here.

            There are also Dominican santeros I can refer you to who can help you with your lingering obsession.

            I’d gladly take the Kroenke treatment if I were Cabral, FWIW.

        • fin

          You mean you dont want to discuss the serious issues taking place right now? Like Nova having poor control after 4ip, or Pineda not throwing 99 his first 2 outings or who will be the 25th man on the roster? I enjoy your comments as well, they arent snarky like alot of the other ones, alot of times I go check out the game Montero is in once you make me aware of it. It always seemed to me that you are just enjoying following Montero rather than killing the Yankees for trading him.

      • CS Yankee

        The force in this one is strong.

        He has taken a lot of grief on this site and has always been above reproach. Can we just have this one exception to the rule without the rule being the exception?


    • jjyank

      Besides..Braun’s off the PEDs now, right? I could probably get him out!

      Kidding, of course. Just trying to further point out how meaningless this post was.

  • Matt DiBari

    I all for anything that lowers my chances of us having two lefties on the 25 man roster.

    Because there’s no appeal to me in watching 7 relievers throw a third of an inning every night.

    • Ted Nelson

      Huh? I believe Cabral has a reverse platoon split… i.e. he is better at getting out RH than LH. Not every LH reliever is a LOOGY.

    • jsbrendog

      wanna go back in time and kidnap larussa so he can’t do the whole 4 relievers 3 outs thing?

      • Matt DiBari

        I’ve considered it.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      “Because there’s no appeal to me in watching 7 relievers throw a third of an inning every night.”

      The appeal to me is that if it leads to a Yankees win I’m all for it.