As has been the case with nearly every free agent with whom the Royals have been linked this offseason, it appears as though Melky Cabrera will be signing elsewhere. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score broke the story on Twitter thusly:
Source tells me Melky Cabrera agrees to three year deal with WhSox pending physical .— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 14, 2014
Cabrera contract should be in $45 million range . Neither agent or team will comment .— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 14, 2014
MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez confirmed the deal with more specifics on the terms here:
Source confirms Melky Cabrera agreed to 3-year deal for an estimated $42-43.5M with CWS pending physical. @MLBBruceLevine reported agreement— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 14, 2014
With already limited resources dwindling following the allocation of funds to Kendrys Morales, Luke Hochevar, Kendrys Morales, Jason Frasor, and Kendrys Morales from the presumed roughly $20-$25MM budget with which the Royals were expected to be able to add talent to the Major League roster, Cabrera was one of the few remaining outfield options who seemed like a reasonable fit for the cash-strapped reigning AL Champions.
With the signing and the continuing assumption that the Royals seem to want to limit Jarrod Dyson's usage to pinch-runner for plodding designated hitter and subsequent late-inning defensive replacement, the dwindling pool of affordable full-time outfielders on the free agent market has gotten smaller, leaving them linked in rumor to Norichika Aoki, Alex Rios, and Colby Rasmus. There is still hope for those clamoring for increased usage of Dyson that the winnowing down of outfield options will result in the Royals needing to employ a platoon with a cheaper lefty-masher while shifting the focus of their remaining push toward addressing the James Shields-sized hole in the starting rotation.
Cabrera--who Steamer projected before the signing as being worth 1.7 fWAR next season--signing with the intradivisional rivals on the South Side of course means the gap between the two squads narrows again, bringing the division closer together, at least on paper. The contract appears to be at roughly market value and means that the Pale Hoes do not have to rely on someone like Avisail Garcia or Dayan Viciedo to be non-horrible.
The former Royals center fielder was the player who the Royals seemed most serious about adding over the past few days, but Cabrera's suitors both in Chicago and Seattle seemed to be far more aggressive in their pursuit as he neared signing. Having turned down Toronto's qualifying offer, the team that did sign Cabrera was going to forfeit a draft pick. For the White Sox--whose first pick is protected and had already signed David Robertson, a fellow QO decliner--this signing means they will lose their third-round pick. Had the Royals signed Cabrera, they would have lost their first-round pick.