Thoughts on the Orioles' pending acquisition of infielder Everth Cabrera

SARASOTA, Fla. — Welcome to spring training. It is report day for Orioles pitchers and catchers, marking the end of that calendar countdown to the beginning of spring training.

Several players have already reported to the Ed Smith Stadium facility in Sarasota, including veterans like Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Darren O'Day. The player's parking lot at the Orioles' spring training facility was already packed Tuesday.


The Orioles' pending deal with free-agent infielder Everth Cabrera likely won't be completed Thursday. It's more likely to be finalized Friday at the earliest, and it could happen over the weekend.

I find Cabrera to be an interesting acquisition. The Orioles learned how speed can be used as a weapon in last year's postseason when they faced the Kansas City Royals, losing in the American League Championship Series in four games. The Orioles haven't placed much of a priority on speed over the past few seasons. Last year, their 44 stolen bases ranked last in the major leagues.


But Cabrera is a weapon on the base paths. He led the National League with 44 steals in 2012 and had 37 stolen bases in 95 games in 2013 before his season was ended with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal.

Even more attractive to the Orioles is Cabrera's on-base capability, especially if he can regain his form of 2013, when he recorded a .355 on-base percentage.

In 2013, Cabrera posted an eye-popping .365/.421/.513 slash line against left-handed pitching. That season, Cabrera also hit .319/.395/.407 with runners on base and .324/.414/.392 with runners in scoring position.

If the Orioles get any resemblance of that player, this will be a good deal for them.

Cabrera is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him miss 69 games with left hamstring injuries, but the Orioles recently scouted him working out in Miami and are confident that he's healthy. They also believe his off-the-field issues -- he is facing an April trial for a resisting arrest charge in California -- can be resolved quickly.

Whether Cabrera is Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette's next success story remains to be seen, but you have to give the Orioles credit for doing their due diligence in the past with players like Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young, ensuring that they would fit within the clubhouse dynamic both on and off the field.

The Orioles might not have been able to make moves like this one three years ago, but now it's almost commonplace. The club has a solid group of veterans that keeps the clubhouse intact. Orioles manager Buck Showalter often talks about the peer pressure that exists within the clubhouse to stay in line. It's a mentality implemented by Showalter and the trust he places in veterans like Jones, Hardy, Wieters and O'Day. It's a mentality that's also facilitated by winning, something the Orioles have done the past three years.

It's also no longer uncharted territory. A year ago, the Orioles welcomed Cruz, who was coming off a Biogenesis suspension, with open arms. Several veterans attended Cruz's introductory news conference, and the veteran slugger felt immediately welcomed. He rewarded the team with a career year and a major-league-leading 40 home runs.


The Orioles likely will do the same with Cabrera. They know that they have to hit on these kind of projects more often than not because they don't have the same margin of error as other clubs do.

And they trust that if Cabrera is successful on the field, there's a better chance the Orioles are successful as well.