The Indians Need To Get A Return For Cabrera Before The Deadline
As the trade deadline approaches, the Indians currently sit 7.5 games back of first-place Detroit, and 3.5 games out of a wild card spot. Their postseason chances look grim, and they’ve done nothing to add talent so far while nearly every team they’re in competition with has made a clear upgrade. The Tigers traded for Joakim Soria, the Yankees got Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy, the Angels picked up Huston Street, and the Mariners got Kendrys Morales from the Twins. The Indians have been given less than a 15% chance of making the postseason in any capacity, and have a starting staff that has fallen apart at the seams time and time again, with the modest exception of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The front office clearly doesn’t see the team as contenders, and it would be awful to watch third straight season go by where the Indians make almost no moves before the end of July in any capacity.
Enter Asdrubal Cabrera. The Indians’ long-time shortstop (and only Tribe player who can remember their 2007 ALCS appearance) is currently batting a decent .250/.310/.394 on the year with 9 home runs and 40 RBI. The San Francisco Giants are said to have some interest in him, and it can only be assumed that the Yankees, Tigers and Reds would have some interest as well. In a market that’s lacking middle-infielders, the Indians hold a valuable trade chip that could fetch a decent return in prospects or perhaps another competitive balance pick. If they don’t trade him, they have two choices at the end of the year: let him walk and get nothing in return, or make him a qualifying offer and risk having him accept it, which would screw over the team’s payroll next year and create a logjam for the team’s middle-infield. Neither option is particularly appealing.
But even if the Indians are somehow contenders, they’d be much better served to call up Francisco Lindor for some added help. Lindor’s defensive skills blow Cabrera’s out of the water, and .352 on-base percentage at AA this year is much more promising than Cabrera’s .310 at the major-league level. Add on the fact that Lindor has hit .333/.429/.722 with 2 home runs in 5 games since being promoted to AAA, and we have a pretty clear picture of which player we’d rather have at shortstop every day. Cabrera’s fielding percentage alone is reason enough to clear a path for Lindor. His speed is even a bit better.
Either way, there’s no reason for the Indians to keep Cabrera at the trade deadline. If the team thinks it can win, they’d be better served to take a chance on Lindor’s skills to help them in a push to the playoffs. If they don’t think they have a shot at the postseason, they need to trade him before he walks away and nets them nothing in return. Keeping Cabrera would be a foolish move by the front office; the product of an inability to make a clear decision. Deciding to make no decision is, in fact, a decision, and in this case, it would the worst one.