- Unable to find a place for him in their rotation or their bullpen, and unable to tolerate the idea of watching his continued struggles, the Washington Nationals on Tuesday designated Daniel Cabrera for assignment, cutting ties with the pitcher they signed in the offseason. In eight starts and one relief appearance, Cabrera could find neither the strike zone nor his old mid-90s velocity. The team informed the right-hander of its decision after Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.
By removing Cabrera from the roster, the Nationals will eat the remainder of his one-year, $2.6-million contract.
"You have to put your best 25 players on the roster that are giving you a chance to win," acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I look beyond the contract and look at the execution and performance of the player, and it wasn't up to par. I was tired of watching him."
In eight starts, Cabrera went 0-5, and averaged more than two hits and/or walks allowed per inning. On Monday, in his first appearance since getting banished to the bullpen, Cabrera recorded two outs, walked three and threw a wild pitch.
Cabrera understood the move, though, and did not appear upset.
"Yeah, I understand the situation," he said. "I know I haven't pitched good. I have not been doing what they wanted me to do. I haven't been pitching good, so it was going to happen sooner or later."
Asked why he struggled during his brief tenure with the Nationals, Cabrera said, "In this game, that's why you see 50,000 people there. Because in this game you never know what is going to happen. One day you can be the best and one day you can be the worst. When I came here I had a good feeling, but nothing [went] my way."
I suppose it's not easy to feel sorry for a guy who's going to clear north of $1.5 million this year (after taxes). Particularly if you're a Nationals fan (or, for that matter, an Orioles fan). I feel for him a little bit, though. Most players really do want to succeed, and most of them really do work hard. Cabrera's never been a good pitcher, precisely. But for a couple of years there, he wasn't a bad pitcher and he was still plenty young enough where you thought he had a shot at goodness. When a big 25-year-old throws 95 without really trying and strikes out nine batters per nine innings ... well, that's someone you want to work with.
But of course Cabrera's gotten worse, not better. Objectively speaking, he might have deserved a bit more time in the bullpen, but Rizzo's comment -- "I was tired of watching him" -- is both honest and understandable. Cabrera may have a place in the game yet. But it's time for someone else to watch him.