Does the Tribe Have to Trade Asdrubal Cabrera?
Mike Brandyberry | On 15, Dec 2012
When everyone knows, it’s no longer a secret.
And that’s where the secret may have reached in the Asdrubal Cabrera trade talks. The idea of trading Cabrera seemed like a foolish one when the season ended, then looked to be an inevitable conclusion after Mike Aviles was acquired and trade talk swirled, but now seem to have cooled again with talks the Indians could keep him.
Cabrera’s second half slumps and conditioning problems have been well-documented. In 2012, Cabrera hit .286, with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in during the first half, but only .251, with five home runs and 26 runs batted in during the same in the second half. The same is true for 2011 when Cabrera hit .293, with 14 home runs and 51 runs batted in as the start of his breakout season, but only hit .244, with 11 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
In each season it has been believed that he gained weight throughout the season, something that is very tough to do in the six month, daily grind of a Major League baseball season. Wear and tear should create weight loss, not gain. Meanwhile, his defense has become sloppy. Cabrera can make an extraordinary play, but often seems to have a lack of focus on routine chances. In 2012, he had a career high 19 errors.
However, Cabrera is still a power hitting shortstop—something Major League Baseball does not have a lot of and is signed for two more seasons at a rather economical contract from a player who can hit 25 home runs. Cabrera will make $6.5 million 2013 and $10 million in 2014. His contract probably increases his trade value at this point.
Cleveland appears to have been close to dealing Cabrera a week ago at baseball’s Winter Meetings, but instead made a three-team deal with Arizona and Cincinnait this week around Shin-Soo Choo. Arizona seemed to be the team most intent on finding a new shortstop for the 2013 season. Granted, other teams have a void, and the free agent market is thin, but Arizona was the top suitor for Cabrera.
Ken Rosenthal reports the Indians are looking for Major League talent in trade for Cabrera—and Chris Perez or Justin Masterson if they were dealt—but as time passes, is Cabrera’s trade value going down? When everyone knows you are shopping a player, it’s tough to command top value. St. Louis seemed interested in Cabrera early in the winter, but have been quiet for some time and seem to not want to part with their young Major League ready players like Shelby Miller or Matt Carpenter.
If the Indians don’t trade Cabrera this winter and he reports to Goodyear, Arz. in February, how much damage has been done? Certainly Cabrera himself has heard the trade rumors. If the accusations of conditioning issues and lack of focus are true, how does he react when he knows the Indians’ spent all winter trying to trade him and couldn’t get the value they were looking for? A lack of focus won’t be a positive with a new manager on a team that will likely not be in contention in 2013.
The secret may be out on Cabrera and trade talks, and whether the Indians want to or not, they may have no choice but to deal him this winter before his trade value begins to drop.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images