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Deal or No Deal: Asdrubal Cabrera

Nov 08, 2012 -- 2:24pm

By: T.J. Zuppe


With several Cleveland Indians potentially on the trading block this off-season, we will take a look at a handful of the players that could be on the move this winter. Today, we look at the pros and cons of the Tribe looking to deal shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Reasons to deal Cabrera:

·         At 26 years old, Cabrera’s maximum value is probably already in decline following the 2012 season. It is unlikely it will ever climb as high as it was after his career year of 2011.

·         His back-to-back inconsistent second halves in ’11 (.244) and ’12 (.251) raise questions about his ability to manage the grind of a full season. His lack of conditioning has been highly scrutinized.

·         Despite how good his overall numbers have looked, his OPS still ranks below .800 at .778 over the last two campaigns. His WAR dropped from 4.6 to 3.0 between ’11 to ’12. Both could indicate his offensive numbers are not as impressive as they seem on the surface.

·         An offensive-minded shortstop is in high demand around the league. Several clubs are looking to add some offense at the position and could be used as leverage against each other (Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals to name a few).

·         Could bring back some young players that fit into the long-term core better than Cabrera does.

·         The club just acquired Mike Aviles from the Blue Jays. Aviles could keep the position warm over the next two seasons until top prospect Francisco Lindor is ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

·         Some question that shortstop is truly the best position for Cabrera and feel he may need to move elsewhere on the diamond in the future.

Reasons to keep Cabrera:

·         It is increasingly difficult for a club lacking offense to part with one of its best offensive players. Inconsistent or not, his 41 homers over the last two seasons are impressive for a shortstop.

·         Despite landing Aviles, Cabrera is still the better offensive option. The Indians would be taking a step back at the position in 2013 if they dealt him.

·         Could benefit from a boost in motivation from new manager Terry Francona. A kick in the pants from the clubhouse culture shock may motivate him to come to spring training in better shape.

·         For a club lacking truly recognizable stars, Cabrera has represented the Indians twice in the mid-summer classic. Also lands Cleveland some national interest when making defensive highlight reel plays.

·         Is extremely affordable in 2013. Will make $6.5 million in ’13, arguably below his market value. (However, this may become a negative in ’14 when Cabrera is owed $10 million.)

·         With a better, more balanced offense around him, Cabrera may see better pitches to hit and enjoy a more consistent overall season. He has proven he cannot carry a lineup himself but stands out nicely as a second or third weapon.

The Verdict:

·         While one of their best hitters in a thin order, the rumored interest by other organizations around the game is enticing. If GM Chris Antonetti could use Cabrera to bring back some stud young pitching (a hurler like Lance Lynn in St. Louis or others) or package him in a bigger blockbuster (Arizona’s Justin Upton comes to mind), it has to be explored. In the end, the Tribe front office should pull the trigger and use their all-star shortstop to breathe some life back into a moderately talented roster pool and ship him to team desperately seeking offense at any cost.

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