“He’s been a big leaguer for a long time, playoff savvy, switch-hitter that can hit from both sides of the plate, can really play shortstop, [and] early in his career was a terrific second baseman. We’ve got ourselves a guy that has been through the rigors of playoff runs and playoff baseball. A guy that can hit from both sides of the plate. I think a guy that can stabilize a lineup and a real good guy in the clubhouse that I think will be welcomed with open arms.”
Cabrera put up a .229/.312/.389 line, nine doubles and five home runs in 49 games and 200 plate appearances over the last two months of the 2014 campaign and he went 3 for 15 with a double, home run, and two runs scored in the Nationals’ four-game NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants that October, but he left as a free agent the following winter and signed with Tampa Bay.
Five years later, the Nationals have signed the now-33-year-old, 13-year veteran to a major league contract after he was released by the Texas Rangers.
Cabrera posted a .235/.318/.393 line with 15 doubles and 12 home runs over 93 games and 368 plate appearances with Texas, and was on a good run before he was released by the Rangers, going 14 for 43 (.326 AVG) with a .362 OBP, .465 SLG, three doubles and a homer in his final 16 games.
“Wasn’t the best year, but I feel good,” Cabrera said after his deal with the Nats was officially announced. “I do all my best to help the team wherever I’m playing, now I’m here, I’m going to do all my best to help the team to win.”
With both Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis) and Howie Kendrick (hamstring) currently on the Injured List, the Nationals added Cabrera, who said he’s been told he’ll be filling in at a number of infield positions.
“I’m going to be on the bench and play a couple games,” he explained, “every part of the infield, first, second, so I’m just going to wait for my opportunity and try to help the team.”
Cabrera worked out at first base in Oracle Park before the second of three with the Giants in San Francisco last night, the one infield position he hasn’t played in the majors, but with the absence of Zimmerman and Kendrick, it makes some sense to get him reps over there if he’s needed his new manager said.
“I want him to get comfortable over there,” Davey Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, on Tuesday night.
“I’m not just going to throw him in there. But I think he can do it. He’s got really good hands, his footwork. He’s going to work with [first base coach Tim Bogar] and see if we can get him going over there.”
Cabrera said he hadn’t expected a call from the Nationals when the Rangers let him go, but he was happy to be back with Washington for a second go-round, with a team that is trying to get back to the postseason.
“There’s nothing better than to be part of the team that plays for the playoffs,” he told reporters in San Francisco.
“And I think this team has got the opportunity to be there this year.”
“I played here in 2014 and I had fun in here,” Cabrera added.
“New group of guys, and now they have a new staff, and I’m really happy to be back and be part of the Nationals team.”