Tribe Has Several Trade Options Over Next Few Days
By Christian Petrila
Spring Training is wrapped up and some fans are still extremely disappointed in what the Indians did (or in this case, didn’t do.) Plenty of their offseason additions didn’t pan out very well this spring, so the Indians would benefit from looking to acquire one of the following guys.
Marlon Byrd of the Chicago Cubs is an intriguing name for the Indians. He is two years removed from an All-Star appearance in 2010. That season, he went on to hit .293 with 12 home runs and 66 RBI. In 2011, he hit .276 with nine home runs and 35 RBI. Although seven of his 10 seasons have been in the National League, his best seasons have been in the American League. In three seasons withTexasfrom 2007-09, he hit .295 with 40 home runs and 212 RBI. He also would help defensively. Although he has played every outfield position, his fielding percentage is highest in left field (.993.) He is entering the last season of his contract, so it’s not like the Indians will need to commit to the 34-year old long term. Byrd could be a valuable asset in 2012.
One name that seems to have gone forgotten over the past few years is Carlos Lee in Houston. Despite the Astros only finishing above .500 once since 2007, Lee has been a very solid hitter. He has hit .286 with 128 home runs and 504 RBI in five seasons with Houston. However, one noticeable flaw is that every year since 2006, his career home run number has steadily declined. It went from a career-best 37 in 2006 to his second-worst 18 in 2011. His batting average also went from .300 in 2009 to .246 in 2010 and .275 in 2011. If the Astros were to trade him, they could pick up $9 million of his $18 million salary. However, if I’m the Indians, his decreasing power numbers are a red flag for me.
If the Cleveland Indians want to acquire a great clubhouse personality without giving up anyone in return, they should take a serious look at Johnny Damon. The 17-year veteran had a solid season in 2011 withTampaBay, hitting .261 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI. For his career, he is a .286 hitter. He would also benefit from reuniting with former Red Sox teammate Derek Lowe. Together, they helped the 2004 Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino. Damon has expressed his desire to play for any team this season so long as he’s offered a Major League contract. The Indians could capitalize on his desire to play and sign a solid hitter and excellent clubhouse presence.
There are two longshots that the Indians could still add, but aren’t likely to. The first is Vladimir Guerrero. The Indians worked him out in theDominican Republiclast week, but GM Chris Antonetti downplayed the Indians’ interest in the 2004 AL MVP. Despite hitting .290 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 2011, the 37-year old hasn’t garnered much attention throughout the league.
The other longshot wasn’t a longshot last Thursday. It seemed like Bobby Abreu going from the Angels to the Indians in a trade involving Trevor Crowe was all but a sure thing. However, as events turned out, trade talks fell apart and Abreu is still an Angel. Abreu struggled in 2011. He only hit .253 with eight home runs and 60 RBI. Abreu’s spring hasn’t shown any signs of improvement either. He’s only hitting .115 with no home runs and three RBI. In retrospect, it was probably for the best that the Indians didn’t go through with the trade.
Whether or not the Indians make a trade or sign a free agent before Thursday’s opener, it is safe to say that they would definitely benefit from asking around and seeing what type of outfield help they can get.
Photo: Associated Press