It’s been a huge week here at Wahoo’s on First as the Indians seemed like the busiest team at the Winter Meetings. Here are the highlights:
He has two years of team control remaining, over the course of which he will earn $16.5 million. All-Star status and web gems aside, that’s not an Evan Longoria-esque bargain. Cabrera is a solid hitter who plays a tough position, but his durability is a question and most analysts seem to be coming around to the consensus that he’s significantly lacking in the field. For some perspective, his 6.7 fWAR over the last two seasons puts him virtually tied with Ian Desmond and Alexei Ramirez and behind names like Jhonny Peralta and Erick Aybar—hardly befitting of a first-rate trade chip.
Katrina tried to imagine how a Cabrera-to-the-Diamondbacks trade might look:
Asdrubal Cabrera is one of the hottest names in Nashville this week, with teams like the Cardinals, Tigers, A’s and Diamondbacks inquiring about the All-Star shortstop. The framework has been laid for more than one deal, only to have it fall through, but it’s become clear that the Tribe is very serious about trading Cabrera—and other teams are very interested.
It’s not clear exactly what the market for Swisher would be like. Speculation on the kind of contract he might get has ranged from the four-year, $44 million deal the Tribe offered Victorino to a guaranteed sum in the neighborhood of $70 million; given that most of the Swisher’s other potential suitors have already moved on other players, I’d expect he’ll have to settle for a deal towards the lower end. And if the Indians can snag him for, say, four years and $50 million, they should absolutely do it.
Both Reynolds and Youkilis bring something to the table (otherwise why covet?) but they’re far from similar. Different, you might say. Youk is sometimes known as the Greek God of Walks, and with a career .384 OBP why not? Heck, outside of a dreadful 40-game stretch last year in Boston it’s never been below .346. The guy gets on base even as he looks funky doing it. For comparison’s sake, Casey Kotchman’s OBP was .280 last year, and didn’t help any by being a punchless left-handed hitter. (We could discuss Youk’s strange build and what that would bring to the team, but that’s a story for another day.)
Jeff offered some thoughts on the multitude of rumors we’ve heard in the past few days:
This is an opportunity to examine how Chris Antonetti plays a good hand, something he has not had frequent opportunity to do during his tenure. To a large extent, this is a poker game, knowing how far to play your hand, and we will see if Antonetti has the nerve to hold his cards until just the right moment to get the best possible return. Cabrera is the best shortstop available on the trade market, but there are others available. If Antonetti holds out for too high an offer, these teams will move on and he will end up stuck with an inferior return. If he jumps too early, the same will happen.
Stephanie Liscio (It’s Pronounced “Lajaway”): I wasn’t completely opposed to Shane Victorino. Even though I wasn’t crazy about him, it was a weak free agent class and he’d still probably be an improvement over last year’s options (particularly against left-handed pitching). However, the money that Boston gave him, and the money the Indians supposedly offered (four years, $44 million) was just insane. There’s no way a contract like that makes sense for a budget-strapped team like the Indians, especially when they have so many holes.
Meanwhile, Lewie made the case for the Tribe’s signing Victorino:
This past season was a relative down year for Victorino: the 32-year-old switch-hitter batted .255/.321/.383 with 11 home runs and 39 stolen bases in 154 games split between the Phillies and the Dodgers. But despite his offensive decline (he OPSed .847 in 2011) he was still almost a league-average hitter (94 wRC+) while playing decent-to-good defense and wreaking havoc on the basepaths. Despite his dip in production, FanGraphs estimated Victorino’s worth at 3.3 wins above replacement, which would have put him in a virtual tie with Carlos Santana for the Indians’ 2012 MVP.
As the Reds let Mesoraco rot, why not cash him in to help maintain their bullpen’s standing as the best in baseball even with the eventual innings limit cap that Aroldis Chapman will hit? The deal makes sense for the Reds because of the enhancement of their bullpen and because Ryan Hanigan won’t become a free agent until 2015. Are they going to continue to give Mesoraco 200 at-bats for the next two seasons?
Finally, Ed analyzed the possible implications of SportsTime Ohio’s forthcoming sale to Fox Sports Ohio:
I truly feel for anyone whose job or career may be affected by the sale of SportsTime Ohio, but the sale of the network could end up being a boon to the Indians baseball organization. For a cash-concerned organization, trying to squeeze the maximum value they can from the TV rights deal is an absolute necessity to survive in modern baseball. And hopefully, the extra money gained can be turned into a meaningful win.