Orlando Cabrera became a hero in Boston after being traded to the Red Sox during the 2004 season. The longtime middle infielder spent time with nine different teams throughout his 15-year career, with most of his time spent in Montreal.
Cabrera was with the Expos for the first eight years of his career, from 1997 until the trade to Boston in 2004. That was also the last year that there was a major-league team in Montreal.
Cabrera told Audacy’s Inside the Monster podcast about that final season with the Expos and gave his thoughts on a MLB team returning to Montreal.
“It was great. It was great,” Cabrera said of his relationship with the Expos fans (9:35 in player above). But he “just don’t see” Montreal getting another MLB team.
“There’s a lot of good fans out there, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think it’s enough of the fans to keep a major league team in Montreal,” Cabrera continued. “I’m just talking numbers, basically. There’s a lot of cities in the United States that can carry a team.”
There were rumors that the Tampa Bay Rays could be moved to Montreal, or at least planned to play some of their games there. Cabrera would be a fan of that.
“But it’d be nice for Montreal to have a team back there maybe once in a while, maybe half a season if somebody can split it like that way could be fun. I believe there’s still a lot of good fans out there but I don’t think it’s enough.”
The Expos were a lame-duck team in the 2004 season with no definitive home the following year. Cabrera was also in the same boat of not knowing his home for 2005, but that was due to him becoming a free agent.
“The team was definitely not coming back to Montreal. 100%,” Cabrera said. “Was it Washington? Was it Vegas? They didn’t want to tell anybody at that time. So for me, being a free agent I knew there was 29 more teams.
“I thought I was established already. I thought it was a great market for me in that year. I always thought that I was a player that a lot of teams wanted. Maybe my ego was big enough to think that way, and it happened. I was able to get traded to the Red Sox.”
Getting traded to the Red Sox was quite the experience for Cabrera.
“Some of the guys when I got traded, I got to Minnesota, and some of the guys were like ‘Welcome to the big leagues’ like I was in Triple-A the whole time for eight years,” he laughed.
“Which is true in some sense. We didn’t have a video person. We didn’t have all the equipment and all the stuff that the Red Sox had just to help you beat the other team. We were doing everything from scratch, basically, on your own sometimes. It was just a different team. A different league if you say it that way.”