A few weeks ago, I proposed three possible trades that I thought the Indians should have attempted to make. In early December, I expanded upon the first idea: sending Indians’ closer Chris Perez to Cincinnati for catcher Devin Mesoraco. The second trade on the list involved sending Shin-Soo Choo to Boston; now that we got Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the three-team deal with Cincinnati, that deal is no longer valid. But there’s one potential trade that’s still ripe for analysis.
Should the Indians deal shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera? It has been a poll question on Wahoo’s on First for most of the winter and the results are nearly 50/50. With two-years and $16.5 million remaining on Cabrera’s contract, it shouldn’t be about the money, but completely about whether or not the team has any ambitions of keeping their All-Star shortstop beyond 2014. If they don’t feel like that is in their best interests, then cashing in on two years of Cabrera is going to be the best deal for the future of the franchise.
Do you need a reminder on why two years is better than one? Just last month, the Rays cashed in James Shields sending him and Wade Davis to the Royals for the impressive haul of Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard. Shields is a very good pitcher, posting a 31-22 record and a 3.15 ERA over the last two seasons. However, he is 31 years old and due $21 million over the next two years; by contrast, Asdrubal Cabrera is just 27 years old.
The Cardinals have the oft-injured Rafael Furcal currently pencilled in at shortstop. Cabrera would be a huge upgrade offensively, as Furcal’s inability to stay healthy limits his speed, which has always been one of his major assets. Furcal could slide over to second base until his next injury, as the Cardinals have Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, and Matt Carpenter as alternative options in the middle infield. Cabrera’s powerful bat would fit nicely into the Cardinals lineup in front of or behind Matt Holliday, David Freese, Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran (switch-hitter), and Yadier Molina, giving St. Louis an additional switch-hitter to a right-handed dominant lineup.
In return, the Indians get a high-ceiling starting pitcher in Rosenthal, who has posted very impressive numbers in both the minors and the majors; although his experience in St. Louis was limited to a total of 26 appearances (31.1 innings), he turned in an electric 40:9 K/BB ratio out of the Cardinals’ bullpen. They would also receive Adams, who has posted a career .318/.365/.565 line in 1,569 minor league plate appearances. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter can be plugged into the DH spot or first base for the Tribe.
However, after seeing what the Indians got in the Choo trade, that isn’t nearly enough—as Trevor Bauer was a much better return than Rosenthal and Adams, and for a lesser player than Cabrera who had only one year of team control remaining. So who should the Tribe set their sights on within the Cardinals organization? Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Taveras, or Lance Lynn would be upgrades over Rosenthal in a deal. Is that too much to ask, though?
If I’m Chris Antonetti, I start by asking for Taveras, a future All-Star right fielder who can absolutely mash. When a 20-year-old is compared to Vladimir Guerrero, you have to have interest. From there, Martinez would probably be the next request, as his small frame and electric stuff is reminiscent of a guy named Pedro Martinez. Miller, Lynn, and Rosenthal are all excellent returns, as well.
Aim high, Tribe. Aim high. If they are able to get this type of return, the Indians must pounce on it.