Melky Cabrera to Blue Jays: How Huge Free-Agent Signing Shakes Up AL East

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - JULY 21: Left fielder Melky Cabrera #53 of the San Francisco Giants jogs to home plate after hitting a home run during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 21, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Giants won 6-5. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal deal with outfielder Melky Cabrera in a move that is sure to shift the power structure of the American League East for the 2013 season.

Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes broke the news first. The deal is still pending league approval and Cabrera must pass a physical, but there's no doubt that this deal will have a major influence on the division.

After the Blue Jays' mammoth deal with the Miami Marlins that gave them Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and John Buck, Toronto looked like it could compete for the division title. With the signing of Cabrera, the Blue Jays' front office has sent the message that it's committed to win now.

For years, the division has been dominated by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Without a salary cap, Boston and New York have consistently stayed ahead of Toronto and Baltimore because they simply spent more money.

As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times points out, the Blue Jays showed that they are willing to go out and spend whatever is necessary to become a legitimate contender.

So much for those 1-year, $5 million predictions. Melky Cabrera gets 2 years, $16 million from those cash-rich Blue Jays, per ESPN.

— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) November 16, 2012


Considering the massive amount of money the Jays took on in the Marlins deal and the amount they were willing to pay Cabrera, Toronto has to be mentioned with the top spenders in the division.

Toronto's push to become a legitimate contender couldn't have come at a better time in the division.

The Yankees, despite a playoff appearance last season, are looking to restructure their roster after failing to earn a championship.

The Orioles are coming off a playoff berth that showed teams other than Boston and New York can make the playoffs. The Rays are coming off of a 90-win season but haven't done anything of note to show they are willing to be a contender.

Boston is coming off one of its worst seasons in recent memory and were on the selling end of a massive salary dump trade of its own.

If the AL East has ever been up for grabs, it's now.

With the Blue Jays making the first two big moves of the offseason to become the favorites, it will be interesting to see how the Yankees and other teams respond.