The case for trading Asdrubal Cabrera
By James Keene
July 9, 2013
After losing the first two games of a four game series in spectacular fashion to the Tigers, and then ultimately losing three of the four games in the series, Indians fans at least subconsciously recognized what they already suspected: this year’s Cleveland Indians are not at the same level as the Tigers and will be hardpressed to win the AL Central.
There is no question that the Indians are much better than last year. The offense is scoring many more runs, the base running has improved, and even the starting rotation has been more consistent. However, despite these improvements the team’s warts have and will continue to stop the team from finding consistent success.
Despite improvements, the Tribe pitching staff has not been good enough and lacks the consistency needed to make a run at the playoffs. Yes, Justin Masterson has definitely improved and made the All-Star team. Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister have been effective for extended periods of time, and even Scott Kazmir has shown rays of light this season.
But the sum of the parts is still a below league average rotation. I am still not sold on Ubaldo Jimenez. He may be better than last year, but there was nowhere to go but up and is still a below average pitcher who frequently falls short of six innings. Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, the two hot prospects, have been shelled in their limited time in The Show. Carrasco walks almost as many batters as he strikes out (13 BB to 15 K) and has surrendered four homers in less than 30 innings pitched. Bauer does walk more batters than he strikes out (16 to 11) and looks overmatched in the big leagues.
The bullpen has been a disaster. The previous strength of the club has probably been the weakest link of this year’s team. Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano have not pitched to their skill level and each has spent time on the disabled list. Their struggles derive partly from the rotation’s failure to pitch quality innings; however, this did not stop the bullpen from pitching well the past few seasons.
Unfortunately, the Tribe’s young bullpen prospects have failed to contribute. Nick Hagadone (5.33 ERA, 16 BB, 25.1 IP), Scott Barnes (7.27 ERA, 3 HR, 8.2 IP) and Matt Langwell (5.06 ERA, 5.1 IP) have failed to pick up the slack when the veterans have failed.
Surprisingly, despite the pitching woes, the Tribe has remained in contention and are still only 3.5 games in back of the Tigers. I want to believe. I wake up every day thinking that this could be the magical year where the Tribe finally makes the playoffs, but I don’t see it.
The offense has been rock solid with steady producers throughout the lineup and the defense makes the plays it needs to, but the pitching will doom the season. The Tribe needs pitching, badly, and the most effective way to get starting pitching is in trades, and the Tribe’s most valuable trade chip might be Asdrubal Cabrera.
Cabrera is a key part of the Indians lineup, though he might also be the easiest to replace. The Indians farm system is deep in middle infielders, with Francisco Lindor, Ronny Rodriguez, Jose Ramirez and others making up a source of cheap, young talent. Further, Mike Aviles is on the roster providing a solid interim option at short until Lindor, or another player, can make it to the big leagues.
Thus, if the front office wants to maximize Cabrera’s value, they might be better off trading him than keeping him in the lineup. GM Chris Antonetti has two options if he trades Asdrubal:
Option 1: Trade for young, controllable, starting pitching.
This option is the most direct, and a best case scenario. If Antonetti could orchestrate an Asdrubal for Shelby Miller trade, for example, this would both maximize Asdrubal’s value while also possibly allowing the Indians to remain in contention in 2013.
However, this trade would probably also be the most difficult to pull off. Why would St. Louis trade a young starting pitcher under contract for a shortstop who is having a down year and is only under control for one more season? This trade would offer the greatest benefit, with the least amount of fan backlash as the Indians could sell this as a win now and later move.
Option 2: Trade for prospects
The typical veteran-for-prospects trade is exactly the move fans would kill the front office for making. I would not like this move if the Indians traded for another Carlos Carrasco or Jason Knapp; however, what the Tribe could do is trade for prospects and use those prospects to trade for an established starter. I do not think Antonetti would trade his top prospects like he did for Jimenez, but if he could get a good enough return for Asdrubal he may be able to net the frontline or middle of the rotation starter the rotation needs.
Trading Cabrera would probably significantly harm the good will the Dolans established by signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher; however, as the Shin-Soo Choo trade proved, a veteran-for-prospects trade can help a team in the short run.
Antonetti needs to find a creative solution to a huge problem. The Tribe’s pitching is not up to par to compete deep into the season for a playoff spot. Further, the Indians have lots of question marks with the rotation next year with Jimenez and Kazmir both free agents at the end of the season.
They need reinforcements from outside the organization, and the only trade chip good enough to net starting pitching might be Cabrera, though there are certainly other pieces on the big league roster and in the farm system that might help them fill that need.
Defensively, that is.
Funny, how the stats seers claim he's deficient.
The stats on range don't consider the type of pitchers the IF plays behind.
Keep Cabrera until the trade deadline NEXT season.
If Lindor is ready, trade Asdrubal.
If Lindor is not ready, or the Indians are in contention, let Asdrubal play out his option.
I was an advocate of trading cabrera this past offseason. His numbers keep getting worse. He strikes out a ton and does not hit for high average.
I would be shocked if we got anything significant for cabrera because he is having a down year. If the indians could have traded for bauer and kept choo, then we don't look ast bad. cincinnati made out like bandits on that trade.
trevor bauer looks like a mess and maybe arizona knew what they were doing when they unloaded him.