Jul 1, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (63) in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Analyzing the Indians' Trade Deadline Strategy

In case you missed it, the Cleveland Indians made two major moves at this year’s trade deadline.  They shipped Justin Masterson to the Cardinals for AA outfield prospect James Ramsey, and traded Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals in return for utility infielder Zach Walters.  Two one-for-one swaps in which they traded a veteran player for a prospect in the minor leagues.  As the July 31st non-waiver deadline came and went, the Indians were clear sellers.

In this case, though, being sellers does not mean that the Indians are giving up trying to nail down a playoff spot.  In fact, it’s pretty clear that Tribe improved their roster by making these moves.  I’m not saying that Ramsey or Walters will make an impact this year. I actually have doubts that Walters will ever make an impact in the major leagues at all.  But the Indians improved their playoff chances by cutting loose a pair of players who weren’t performing well enough to justify a spot on the roster.

Consider that Justin Masterson had an ERA of 5.51 on the year with more losses than wins.  Then factor in that he failed to make it out of the fifth inning about as often as he was able to finish it, and we can clearly see that he wasn’t helping the team win.  But his trade clears room in the rotation for Danny Salazar to remain in the big leagues.  Salazar has loads of potential and his most recent outings (13 IP, 4 ER, 11 K, 3 BB) provides a ray of hope that he may finally be returning to last year’s form.

Cabrera’s contributions to the team this year were a bit more positive than Masterson’s, but with an on-base percentage barely above .300 and errors in the double-digits, he wasn’t exactly an elite shortstop.  Don’t get me wrong, those 9 home runs on the year were pretty nice, and he did have some respectable hot streaks this year.  However, trading him will likely help out the Tribe’s pitching staff by upgrading their infield defense, especially if (dare I say it) the Indians decide to call up Francisco Lindor as his full-time replacement.  After this trade, it seems pretty likely that Lindor will at least get a September call-up. If he comes up sooner, though, he could really make an impact for the Indians, especially considering what he has been able to do at the AAA level so far.

To reiterate, the Indians were sellers at the trade deadline, but they were sellers with the intent to contend.  The pieces they traded away clear room for promising young talent who can help them make a stronger push towards October baseball.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera Cleveland Indians Jusyin Masterson

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