Saito's contract demanded his release to be a free agent, as the 40-year-old would have been bound to the team via arbitration otherwise. He put up a 2.83 ERA in 54 innings, whiffing 69 in his first season with the Braves but was injured down the stretch and missed the NLDS, which the Braves lost.
Meanwhile, Cabrera could have been retained by the club for two more years of arbitration. However, Cabrera's current $3.1 million salary -- certain to raise in arbitration -- is hardly justified by a .255/.317/.354 line in 509 plate appearances and showing nothing of value to Atlanta besides a strong outfield arm. (And as the graphic to the right shows, what good is a strong arm if you don't know where it's going?)
Cabrera was a liability at the plate and on defense and was also overweight from day one. Clearly, his successes in New York caused him to be lax -- something the Braves found out after dealing him for Javier Vazquez. (In perhaps a silver lining for the Braves, Vazquez didn't work out for New York as well.)
Even if Cabrera had a successful season, however, GM Frank Wren said his release likely would have still happened, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Wren said the Braves considered Cabrera a one-year player from the get-go, making it clear that prospect Arodys Vizcaino was the real prize in the trade with the Yankees.
Just 26, the Melk Man will land somewhere and attempt to rehabilitate his value, but he'll have a long road ahead in getting himself back in shape and forcing his way into playing time.-- Evan Brunell
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