Should the Yankees pursue a deal for this talented 25-year-old starter?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Edward Cabrera could be on the Yankees’ radar as the team looks to find pitching in this market. While the 25-year-old starter has struggled with finding consistency at the MLB level, perhaps a change of scenery could unlock another level to his game. He’s known for his high-octane velocity, including a changeup that he can throw as hard as 95 MPH, but Cabrera is also known for a lack of command in the zone. That being said, it’s not impossible for him to make the necessary adjustments to improve, and the Yankees could benefit from taking the flyer on such a talented pitcher.

He may not be a top-of-the-rotation arm, but the Yankees could add a starter who is both cost-controlled and has the chance to take that next step in 2024.

Could the Yankees Unlock More in Edward Cabrera’s Profile?

mlb: miami marlins at st. louis cardinals, edward cabrera, yankees
Jul 18, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Edward Cabrera (27) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This past season, Edward Cabrera had a 4.24 ERA and 4.43 FIP across 99.2 innings, making 20 starts and two relief appearances during his second full season in the Major Leagues. His talent is incredible; he struck out 118 batters in that sample size with a 54.3% Groundball Rate, but the issues with Cabrera stem from his extremely high 15.2% Walk Rate. Regarding pitch quality, Cabrera has a top-of-the-line arsenal, sporting four pitches with a Stuff+ over 106, and while his changeup grades out as his worst pitch in the metric (89), it’s his best-performing pitch by far.

Stuff+ doesn’t love changeups, with Eno Sarris even admitting that it can’t capture all of the variables behind a great changeup, including arm speed. It’s no secret that Edward Cabrera throws his changeup hard, and that movement differential plays even better when it looks like he’s throwing his fastball, but it’s instead a nasty changeup with drop and run. The issue with changeup-first pitchers is that they usually struggle against same-handed batters, while Cabrera has held lefties to a .586 OPS. Right-handed hitters had a .822 OPS against him with a whopping 17% Walk Rate.

When we look at how right-handed batters perform against his five pitches, we see that he doesn’t often go to the best pitches in his repertoire to succeed in those situations:

His slider performs best against right-handed batters, but it’s behind his worst-performing pitch against righties (four-seamer), and while his sinker isn’t great, it likely would do a better job than his four-seamer as his primary fastball. It makes sense, seeing how sinkers play better to same-handed hitters and four-seamers play better to opposite-handed hitters, and there could be added utility in using his sinker more based on his changeups’ pitch shape. The two pitches could play off of each other well due to similar arm-side movement, with the velocity differential throwing batters off.

Tweaks in pitch usage could elevate his profile, and it’s not as if he already hasn’t shown the ability to prevent runs at an above-average clip. He has a 94 ERA- in his career, meaning that his run prevention is 6% better than the MLB average, and part of that is because having nasty stuff inherently makes you hard to hit. Batters have a career .206 BA against Cabrera, and if the Yankees can get the walk rate down from unplayable to just manageable, this could be a middle-of-the-rotation arm that greatly bolsters any rotation.

Injuries have held him back in previous seasons, with his career-high in innings coming this past season, where he collected 128 innings across the MiLB and MLB levels. That does present a degree of concern, and because of that, I would hope that the Yankees would acquire some depth around him to secure their rotation, but how could the Yankees and Marlins match up in a potential deal?

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Swapping Young Players At Positions Of Need

mlb: arizona diamondbacks at new york yankees, oswald peraza
Sep 22, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Oswald Peraza (91) throws the ball to first base for an out during the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Oswald Peraza has always shown off an ability to play excellent defense and is a remarkable athlete, but the bat just hasn’t come around in his MLB career. Perhaps a change of scenery and consistent playing time help his bat develop, and the Miami Marlins desperately need help at the shortstop position. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the team was looking for immediate help in their middle infield in return for Edward Cabrera, and while Gleyber Torres could be an impact hitter in Miami and the Yankees could free up $15 million, the Yankees need that bat in their lineup.

The Marlins are 27th in projected WAR at shortstop, according to FanGraphs, and the team doesn’t have a defined starter there, something Oswald Peraza could immediately provide. His value has diminished from where it was a top-100 prospect, but the same could be argued for Cabrera, who has injury and consistency concerns. It’s a deal that gives these two young, promising players a fresh start, and they’re both headed to organizations that have great decision-makers at the helm. Miami recently hired Peter Bendix, and while Kim Ng was a strong GM as well, Bendix was the Rays’ GM from 2022-2023, an organization that has produced some of the best minds in baseball.

A one-for-one swap of these two players would make plenty of sense, and Peraza is projected to put up a 97 wRC+ this upcoming season per Steamer’s projections. If he’s around that mark offensively, his glove and speed will aid his value immensely, and the Marlins getting even league-average play from the position would be a massive step up from what they’re used to. For the Yankees, they add a starter in Edward Cabrera, who bolsters the rotation with a projected 4.24 ERA across 26 starts according to Steamer, which would slot in the fourth spot for the team.

There are tweaks both players involved could make to unlock more in 2024, and considering the lack of chances Oswald Peraza would likely get this upcoming season in New York, the team is traded a surplus for a necessity. It wouldn’t prevent other moves either, and perhaps Cabrera is a player they flip in a separate deal involving an impact starting pitcher like Dylan Cease or Mitch Keller.

(It’s also now being reported that Oswald Peraza has a fourth MiLB option, which provides even more value for the infielder either to the Yankees or Marlins)