Swinging for the Fences: Waiting to trade Cabrera
Could the time to deal Cabrera be at the trade deadline?
Last weekend may have been the most miserable winter weekend I've experienced in a while, but even while the polar vortex returns for a curtain call this week, I couldn't be more excited for baseball season.
Here we are only a couple weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting and a successful weekend of Tribe Fest has helped melt the snow and the cold away as anticipation for the upcoming season of Indians baseball grows with each passing day.
I know I'm counting down the days until my departure for a week-long stint in Goodyear in March.
But while the Tribe has done well building up excitement and anticipation for the 2014 season, there are still several questions that have yet to be answered before they close up shop for the offseason.
Will they reach an agreement with Justin Masterson and will it be a multi-year deal or just through next season?
Do they have plans to make another major league signing and if so, would it be a starter or hitter?
What is the future of Asdrubal Cabrera with the Indians?
That last question is one of particular interest to me since I thought for sure at the end of last season that there was no way Cabrera would wear an Indians uniform again. The double play he grounded into during the wild card game seemed like the perfect "last straw" to me.
It's become painfully obvious that the Tribe missed a golden opportunity in the 2012-13 offseason to deal Cabrera while he was still considered one of the top shortstops in the game. The Cardinals had appeared to be the primary suitors for him at the time and considering the talent they potentially could have offered in return... well it's better not to think about it.
That window of opportunity has since closed after St. Louis signed former Indians and Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year/$53 million deal.
The Mets have been in need of a shortstop since the departure of their All-Star up the middle in Jose Reyes two offseasons ago. However, they have shown little, if any, interest in a trade with Cleveland for Cabrera. Other than that, there hasn't been any interest in the Tribe shortstop this offseason, at least none that's been worth reporting.
It's not like the Indians couldn't survive without him. They have Mike Aviles, who is capable of starting at short. They just signed another super-sub utility man in Elliot Johnson on Monday. Plus, we got our first taste of the the legend of Jose Ramirez late last season, a guy who has the glove, the wheels and probably the best plate discipline I've ever seen.
Now you may be asking "What about Lindor?"
I know there's been speculation about him possibly making the big league squad out of spring training. I didn't think it would happen and Terry Francona echoed that sentiment during a Q&A session at Tribe Fest on Sunday when he said Francisco Lindor would "definitely" be starting the year in the minors, adding that the team would continue to let their top prospect develop at his own pace.
Let's not forget that Lindor only played in a handful of games at AA Akron before being shelved for the remainder of the season with back issues.
Now it's the end of January, Cabby's still here and I've had a chance to re-think things a bit.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com discussed Cabrera's situation in a recent Q&A session with fans and said he believes Cabrera will still be with the Tribe come Opening Day. Considering Cabrera's regression in plate discipline and .299 on-base percentage in 2013, I'd imagine not many fans are too happy to hear that.
Obviously, the team would be limiting themselves financially by paying Cabrera the $10 million he's owed in 2014 in the final year of his contract. The question is would it be worth absorbing that contract for the possibility of him returning to some semblance of his All-Star form during a contract year?
I'm someone who does believe a contract year changes the focus of all players, but the extent of the effects are different for each player. Us Tribe fans saw that theory play out first-hand with Ubaldo Jimenez last season. Not to take credit away from Terry Francona and Mickey Callaway and the work they put in with him, but in the end, it still came down to the pitcher committing to working to return to form for a chance at a big paycheck.
Can the contract year theory have the same effect on Cabrera? He is in a similar position as Jimenez was after his 2012 season heading into 2013. A former star player coming off a career worst season in several categories. He's also heading into his age-28 season, so he is still considered to be in his prime.
That's where keeping Asdrubal around at least for the first portion of the season could be the better option for the Indians.
Just for a moment, imagine that it's the trade deadline. The Indians are right in the playoff chase and are looking for that one last piece or pieces to push them over the top. Cabrera is having a decent bounce-back year and Lindor is ready to be called up at any time.
Granted that's a best-case scenario, but the Tribe would be in an ideal position to make a key trade for their stretch run push if they had such an expendable asset.
The midseason trade environment has also become more of a seller's market due to the addition of the extra wild card spots in each league. More teams can still be considered "in the hunt" by the time July 31st rolls around, thus making them more reluctant to part with key players. Just look at the Mariners and Phillies last season.
Even if that wasn't the case, whether it be the Tribe being out of contention or Cabrera having another bad year (or both), I still believe they would find more suitors at the trade deadline than they would if they tried to force a trade right now. Don't trade him just to trade him, but if this year's deadline proves to be anything like last season with not enough sellers, the interest in Cabrera could be high and the Indians would be crazy not to listen.
Of course, if the Mets changed their mind and made push for Cabrera or if another team came out of the woodwork and made an offer during the remainder of the offseason, I wouldn't object to them listening. Either way, I don't see him making it through the season in a Tribe uniform.
Masahiro Tanaka signs 7-year/$155 million deal with Yankees... I never bought into the idea that the Yankees were legitimately concerned about finishing the offseason under the the $189 payroll limit to avoid paying the luxury tax. Considering that New York missed the playoffs last season and that the Dodgers are paying their way to becoming the new "Evil Empire", Brian Cashman and the Yankees felt the need to make a statement and reeling in the talk of the Hot Stove season.
Now does this mean the Yankees are playoff contenders again? To me, everything has to work out perfectly for them to be serious contenders in the AL East again, including all key players staying healthy and producing to their career norms. Considering that we're talking about a team that has a 39-year-old Derek Jeter and injury-proneMark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury, that's a pretty tall order.
Right now, I rank them third in the division behind Boston and Tampa Bay. But if Baltimore gets one or two quality starters, the Yanks will have a long haul ahead of them in that divisional race if they want to prove they've still got it.
Rays reunite with Grant Balfour on 2-year/$12 million deal... The Rays, Orioles and A's have created this bizarro world of closers with Jim Johnson being dealt to Oakland, Grant Balfour nearly signing with Baltimore before health concerns cropped up which led to the deal falling apart and him now signing with Tampa Bay and also the possibility of Fernando Rodney going to the Orioles, per recent rumors.
In all seriousness, though, this was a solid pickup for the Rays as they continue to search for the one sparkplug to get them to the next level. And the term "sparkplug" is an understatement with Balfour. Now that they appear to be keeping former Cy Young-winner David Price, their starting rotation will remain among the top in baseball. Their lineup could also be solid with James Loney coming back.
Whether Balfour proves to be that missing piece, we'll find out, but the Rays aren't going away anytime soon.
Matt Garza inks 4-year/$50 million contract with Brewers... Let me put it this way, Matt Garza got a deal with an average annual value of $12.5 million and Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez's qualifying offers were worth $14 million each. If you're the agents for those pitchers, you're not too happy with the terms of that contract, but if you're the Indians and Royals looking to add another starter, you're keeping close tabs on Jimenez and Santana from here on out.
While there is something to be said about the health risks with Garza, still, being one of the two top free agent starters on the market without draft pick compensation and only getting $50 million plus incentives has to make the guys with the aforementioned attachment a little uneasy. Bronson Arroyo is the other pitcher free of compensation, but I don't see him getting as big a deal, regardless.
Still, their market hasn't completely crashed yet as the Blue Jays and Mariners appear to be serious suitors, but rumblings from around the league via social media indicate that not many teams are interested in parting with their draft picks and the pool money attached to them. Regardless, if I'm the Indians, I'd be sure to keep a clear line of communication with Ubaldo these next several days/weeks.
A.J. Burnett will return to pitch in 2014... Speaking of starters, a late-breaking story on Tuesday stating that former Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett will return to pitch in the major leagues in 2013. The 37-year-old has been contemplating retirement for most of the offseason after his contract expired. Travis Sawchik, the Pirates beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review who originally broke the story, also said Burnett will be "open to pitching for a club other than the Pirates".
This makes the starting pitching market a whole lot more interesting depending on what his asking price is and who's interested in him. And considering he averaged over 194 innings-per-season over the last three years and his cumulative 3.41 ERA in his two years with the Buccos, that probably won't be a short list.
Could the Indians be on that list? We'll find out in the days to come, but it could set up perfectly for them either way as it could also limit Ubaldo Jimenez's market even more and make a reunion more plausible.
I have to say first, kudos to the Indians on putting together a quality event this weekend. The sophomore edition of Tribe Fest was much more organized and interactive. I went on Sunday and had a chance to meet a wide array of players and personnel, including Yan Gomes, Clint Frazier, Corey Kluber (and yes, I can confirm that he is capable of smiling), Terry Francona, Mark Shapiro and even Paul Dolan.
Second, I have to give major props to all the fans who braved such hazardous weather conditions to attend over the weekend. If our leader Tony Lastoria's information is correct, Tribe Fest saw a 25% increase in fan attendance over last year even with the polar vortex redux. Well done, Cleveland!
I also love the timing of the event, the last weekend of January with only a couple weeks until pitchers and catchers report. Talk about a great way to get excited for baseball again!
Follow me on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake for all the latest Cleveland Indians news and baseball chat.
Fair points on Cabrera...but most reports had Cabrera coming into camp last winter in the best shape of his life. So was it laziness that hurt his season? Or just a bad year/decline in skills?
Think we can all agree too, Cabrera's approach at the plate drastically changed in 2011. Went from more of a Brantley type to being a guy swinging for the fences (thanks to Orlando Cabrera). Worked out in 2011...when his HR/FB rate spiked to over 13%. Hasn't even been at 10% since and his HR totals have suffered and as a result his overall offensive contributions. I don't think it's really laziness that has caused this, but just bad approach, though maybe I'm wrong.
This has occurred between the ages of 25 to 27, just when you would expect a player's production to increase or at least stay the same.
As Tony said, Asdrubal has been reporting to camp heavy and out-of-shape. Heck, you can see it. He's chunkier than he used to be.
A middle infielder, especially a SS, needs to stay in peak physical condition, especially playing 150 games a year. We're not talking about Fat Albers here, who can get away with a spare tire because he never faces more than three batters at a time.
What's the explanation for Cabrera's three-year regression in his mid-20's? Either he has a degenerative physical condition that the Indians are successfully concealing, or he's gotten complacent. We're not talking about one bad season because he got "unlucky" on his line drives.
My point was that if he shows up in great shape this year and has a terrific season, then it just proves he was dogging it the last couple of years and he only puts out when there's money on the table. Which makes him (or anyone who does that, no matter what race they are) a lazy POS.
No way this was a racist comment. I believe the reason that the percentage of Latin players in the bigs is always increasing is because those players are hungrier, work harder, and want it more than most well-off white kids.
I still remember reading a column on Edgar Martinez, who as a poor teenager would stand on his front porch while it was raining, bat in hand, hitting raindrops as they fell one-by-one from the gutter, tirelessly working to perfect his swing. Nobody can tell me that Latin players are lazy. But if any player consistently shows up out-of-shape for spring training and then regresses three years in a row in his mid-20's, then I'm calling it like I see it.
I did not write the 7:04 posting and it does not reflect my view. However, I will offer constructive criticism when asked. Remember though that I criticize literary professionals for a living so my standards are different.
I am concerned about selective use of statistics. Cabrera is a great example. You accurately posted a couple of very negative statistics to support your case. Where is the balance? You did not post more meaningful statistics that would show that Cabrera was actually an above average offensive SS in a down year. When it comes to balancing stories, several of jim Pete's recent posts are very good in that regard.
Second, don't use the Cleveland "fan" as justification. The only "fans" that count are the ones who buy tickets and there aren't that many to care about. Those "fans" have run some pretty decent players out of Cleveland. I do not find Cleveland "fans" to be particularly knowledgeable or judges of ability. Please do not overestimate the "fans".
IF you want to write off-line, just ask Tony. He has my address.
Playing the Race card is bull.
This is a player who was uniformly and - plenty of Latino brothers who could have and did not have his back included - denigrated, loathed and totally disrespected by his former team in Colorado. Openly. Where was your protest then?
He is a diva and a hot head and immature for a man entering his thirties. If he wasn't a professional athlete he would have been in court supervised therapy with an ankle bracelet just for his antics in year one Spring Training with the tribe.
And that wasn't an isolated incident. He had plenty - before an d since.
Cyber-bullying race baiting doesn't futher IBI top notch baseball discussions, and this isn't the first time. Only a few weeks ago we got this Chief Wahoo tiff. It's beyond aggravating.
Get a life. You want to do some hoop dance like this is 1973 and Leonard Peltier was your hero, fine, go and do it on your own time and website. Nobody is stopping you Seth.
Because what you are doing is old progressive aggressive squatting - forcing the issue on everyone else.
Take the attitude elsewhere. We are here for baseball, not to be captive to some soapbox regurgitated agitprop lecture.
What race am I?
So you can tell race by someone's name?
Or are you the racist calling everyone else one?
My wife is Native American, I've talked to numerous people from her family's tribe -NONE- are offended by the Indians or their logo. Figure that out.
Not gonna go into a whole racial thing here, but Cabrera has come into camp out of shape before...it's not racist or stereotypical to call him out on it. There was no racial intent at all until someone decided to use the term racist....perhaps the most overused/incorrectly used word in the English language...
Santana, Asdrubal and Peralta before him have all been hit with the "lazy" label. There is nothing in their performance that makes them seem "lazier" than others who may not have realized their potential and are not in the best shape, don't adjust to holes in their swing, and/or don't field their position well Laporta might have been called "dumb", but not lazy or a head case. Chisenhall, or guys like Mark Reynolds or Branyan who can't field their position or adjust their swing, are never referred to as uncoachable or lazy.
As said, the "lazy POS" comment was in response to Rich's comment. POS typically stand for "piece of .....crap"...
Fail to see how calling a latino player lazy could be looked at as "racist" though...
My lazy response was directed at Rich's comment, not yours. Think calling Cabrera a lazy POS was extreme. Can understand saying he plays lazy but just felt it was extreme.
I do think "lazy" wasn't the best word...perhaps lacking mental toughness is the better way to put it. Not saying that's necessarily true with either Ubaldo or Cabrera though. Personally just don't believe Cabrera is a very smart ballplayer.
I agree that "lazy" is not really an appropriate or fair characterization for either Ubaldo or Asdrubal (and it does occur to me that someone could easily say that calling two latino players "lazy" is borderline racist), but HB (!) whoa dude! What's up with that?! A little trolling around the internets this morning?
Would potentially open up more teams...Blue Jays, Nationals, Orioles, Braves, Yanks, A's. Also think the Red Sox could be a trade destination if Stephen Drew does not resign. Sounds like they want Boegarts at 3B...Cabrera wouldn't be a bad 1-year guy to plug in, let Middlebrooks play at AAA as infield depth. Sox also have an abundance of the thing the Tribe could use....starting pitching....
So we now have a $15 million 3rd baseman with a .299 OBP who will hit maybe 12 HR's? His bat might be OK for a shortstop, but it won't play at 3rd. And what if Santana has 3rd base locked down?
If Asdrubal has a good year in '14 all it will prove is that he's a lazy POS who will only put out when there's money on the line.
As far as dealing Cabrera...definitely think it depends on what following move happens. I wouldn't trade Cabrera just to trade him. Even if he doesn't improve much he would keep Lindor in the minors, which is a good thing. As much as I love the kid, really hope the Indians don't do what they almost always do with prospects and rush him too quickly and destroy him.
$10M is a lot of dough though....if the Tribe truly feels they are a better team adding a bat somewhere else or a SP and need to free up cash then IMO makes sense to move Cabrera.
As far as a QO to Cabrera....he'd have to have a 2011 type season IMO to even consider that. Sure Stephen Drew got one and turned it down....but Drew has also been better than Cabrera over the last 4-5 years. Plus, as hinted at, think players and even agents will start to realize that guys that aren't stars shouldn't be declining QOs. Anything is possible with AC, and as said no one at this time last year thought Ubaldo was QO worthy.
Another thing with AC....what can you actually get for him right now? Not good defensively (at least at short) and coming off a bad offensive year....
Asdrubal GIDP 10 time last year in 562 PAs
Aviles GIDP 11 times in 394 PAs.
If Mike Aviles is your starting SS you don't have a starting SS. Much like Santana people truly do not appreciate the things that Cabrera has done for this team. He is a good player at a premium position.
You always want something better until the thing you had is no longer there.
Tony, your thought on my comment below? What if we make a QO to cabby at year end and he takes it? You want to run the risk of him on the payroll for 15 million next year? Not me.
Good article, I've been around this site for several yrs, almost from its inception. You write quality stuff every time, and I enjoy them.
Everyone has a style all their own, with that mind some writers will appeal to a broad base. On the other hand, some writers appeal to a smaller base. For example, some fans love the advanced stats articles - I am not one of them. That doesn't change the quality of the article - in fact, I compliment those writers - at this site because they are quality pieces on regular basis. However, those articles appeal less to me then say, an article that speculates why the Indians should be bold and sign Ubaldo Jimenez or AJ Burnett (now that we finally know he's pitching).
BrianM, brings up a quality point ACab has been much discussed, nevertheless, he's still fair game. He also, makes an excellent point, that is, the needed discussion re: prospects vs. draft pk comp. As Indians fans you might find trading talent for prospects a more emotional decision than say some other franchises. We've seen it done, how do prospects weigh vs. say the draft pk and public perception issue with the Tribe? It's a complicated issue that certainly deserves some thought.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you to be yourself, there will always be that Cleveland.com crowd. Listen to people who make constructive points, but not personal insults. Get feedback from some of he he other experienced writers, listen to what they have to say. Finally, continue to write, you'll find you have a lot to say and your style might change along the way.
Thanks for the quality Indians discussion.
I personally don't get into some of the in depth number crunching and ratios and such as it makes my head spin. But I'm not going to rip the people who do like it. This site has enough writers to please any tribe fan.
As for Jake, he is a young man learning the ropes and finding his way as a writer. I have no problem with what he wrote and know as long as the criticism is constructive that he would be very receptive to it. I know there are things that I have written which some may say are not up to par, but I always welcome constructive criticism for myself as well. The same for Jake. Keep plugging away my man.
But seriously, if anyone has any creative suggestions, please feel free to share. My time here at IBI has been and will continue to be a learning experience.
Thanks for the advice, Brian. I'll start brainstorming the rest of this week.
Norm, ease up on Jake. Your open hatred of jake is childish. He's a kid trying his best. Stop reading if its that bad.
Jake nice article. Keep at it if that's what you like.
For what its worth, I thought the article was good. The Cabrera trade has been a popular topic among casual Indians fans, and you did a nice job of explaining why it probably won't happen.
I would like to see some different topics though. Asdrubal has been talked about multiple times this winter, and most of the everyday readers have probably already came up with the same conclusion regarding ACab. There are endless topic ideas when it comes to the Indians or just the state of MLB in general.
Robert shared his opinion about how he values compensation picks vs prospects acquired via trade. That would be a great topic here for someone to write about. That specific debate is very relevant for an Indians fan.
My recollection is that A.C. was a strikeout and DP machine with men on base last season, so I think Aviles would be a more-than-adequate replacement this coming season. I also think the signing of Elliot Johnson was more than a little curious.
And Robert, you bring up an interesting point. Masterson would fetch better value on the trade market, but I think the Indians only make that move if they were out of contention or if Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and/or Carlos Carrasco had stepped up and were pitching to their full potential as starters to the point where Masterson was expendable, but that's a bit of a long shot right now.
That said, if the Tribe is in contention and ACab is a critical part of that success, I would like to see us hold onto Asdrubal for the whole year.
I feel very differently about Masterson's situation. Justin could actually bring us back some quality young players in a trade, either now or at the deadline (as opposed to Asdrubal, who probably doesn't bring back nearly what Masterson can). It is essential for a small-market team like the Indians to have a strong farm system, and clearly one of the best ways to do that (especially if you can't figure out how to draft quality players) is to trade your most marketable players before they become FA's for talented ML-ready youngsters.
I just don't see how the Tribe can keep Masty for the whole year and then let him walk. Pick or no pick, it just doesn't make sense. For Cabrera that's ok and maybe the smart way to go.
I'm hoping/rooting that Cabrera has a great year, offer a QO for 15, and If the Indians cant resign him, than receive another 1 round pick. They could have the potential of 2 picks in 15 from Cabrera and Masterson.