Melky denies issue with turf in Toronto

Free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera quickly shot down a report Friday that he would prefer to not re-sign with the Blue Jays because of the artificial turf at Rogers Centre, Toronto’s home ballpark.

ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted early Friday that the 30-year-old Cabrera’s “preference” is to sign elsewhere this offseason so he doesn’t have to play half his games on the unforgiving artificial turf. Olney then clarified his initial tweet, saying Cabrera would only factor in the grass-versus-turf preference if he received several equal offers.

Cabrera, coming off two seasons with the Blue Jays, took to Twitter on Friday to further deny the initial report by saying he’s open to playing on any surface.

After finishing third in the American League East last season, the Blue Jays already made one aggressive move this offseason by signing catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal.

One of Toronto’s biggest holes at this point is in left field, where Cabrera played each of the past two years. (For what it’s worth, Cabrera is a career .291/.339/.424 hitter in 147 games at Rogers Centre, and he hit .304 with an .807 OPS in 68 games there last year.)

The Jays are reportedly interested in bringing back Cabrera, who hit .301/.351/.458 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs last year, but not at his current asking price.

There are several other options for Toronto to consider if Cabrera does in fact elect to sign somewhere else. Free agent Nick Markakis would fit the bill, though he’ll likely receive several offers. The Jays could also pursue free agents Torii Hunter, Nori Aoki and Alex Rios or look at someone like the Reds’ Jay Bruce in a trade.

-Adam Berry

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