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White Sox Mon Dec 15 2014

Cabrera Signing Fills Holes for White Sox

Chicago White SoxFor the last few years, the White Sox had serious issues with simply getting guys on base. Also for the last few years, the Sox employed Dayan Viciedo as a regular starter in the outfield.

On Saturday night the team addressed those issues and signed Melky Cabrera to a three-year, $42 million contract.

The deal is a very fair one for one of the more productive outfielders in the game. The 30-year-old Cabrera has been a tremendous offensive player since 2011. He hits both lefties and righties well and he had a line of .309/ .351/ .458 and a WAR of 11.8 over the four seasons.

Perhaps most importantly, Cabrera's on-base numbers have been very good throughout his career, and that's with extra-base power and a dozen or so home runs mixed in per year.

After being middle-of-the-pack in on-base over the first three years of the decade, the White Sox plummeted toward the cellar of the American League in OBP in 2013 and were 12th last year. One of the big reasons was Viciedo, a project who showed flashes but never put everything together (and is still with the team, for now). Despite 21 homers last year, Viciedo finished with an OBP of .281 in 563 plate appearances, the lowest mark among regular year-long Sox starters.

Reaching base will be important for the White Sox. Not only is US Cellular Field a power hitter's park, but with guys like Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche in the middle of the lineup, the Sox just need guys to get on so the bats can drive them in. The switch-hitting Cabrera will most likely bat second, the slot he predominantly hit in over the last four years, after Adam Eaton and before Abreu.

Cabrera isn't perfect, though. He's had a negative dWAR every year since 2008, and the Sox could use some defense. And Cabrera has missed time due to some bizarre circumstances, to say the least: he missed the Giants' title run in 2012 because of a PED suspension.

The Sox will live with this if Cabrera maintains his plate presence. He is the fifth big acquisition the Sox made this winter, after LaRoche, Zach Duke, David Robertson and Jeff Samardzija, all guys who will help transform the Sox into a division-contending power. If the Sox can flip Viciedo for bullpen help too, watch out.

 
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