Melky, Blue Jays near completion of two-year deal

By Gregor Chisholm / | 11/16/12 4:55 PM ET

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays were nearing completion Friday on a two-year contract with free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, according to a baseball source.
The deal will pay Cabrera $16 million, according to reports, the first of which came from ESPN Deportes. Toronto officials have not commented. Cabrera presumably would need to pass a physical before a contract would be finalized.
The 28-year-old Cabrera is coming off a controversial season with the Giants. Cabrera was one of the Major Leagues' most proficient hitters until he received a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance on Aug. 15.
The suspension came while Cabrera was leading the National League in batting with a .346 average. He also had 11 homers and 60 RBIs in 113 games while posting a career-high .906 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
Despite the impressive numbers, San Francisco opted not to reinstate Cabrera prior to its World Series victory over Detroit. That signaled a parting of the ways, and now Cabrera will have an opportunity for a fresh start in Toronto.
"We're willing to give anybody a second chance," general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the Fan590 in September when asked about possibly signing a player who had been suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. "Don't know if we're willing to give a third or fourth chance."
Cabrera would fill an obvious void in the Blue Jays' lineup while assuming everyday duties in left field. Toronto already has veteran Rajai Davis under contract for 2013, but it would prefer to use him as a fourth outfielder and late-game pinch-runner.
The signing of Cabrera would be the latest in a series of significant investments made by the Blue Jays this offseason. Earlier this week, they pulled off a blockbuster with the Marlins to acquire Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others in a 12-player swap in which they would take on upward of $160 million in salary. That deal, under review by Major League Baseball, has not been made official.
Cabrera is an eight-year veteran who has spent time with the Yankees, Braves, Royals and Giants. He has hit .284 with a .338 on-base percentage and a .752 OPS while recording 84 stolen bases and 69 homers.