posted on November 13, 2012 21:28
The Hot Stove season has barely had time to preheat and fans are already drooling over the Asdrubal Cabrera rumors that have been churning out of the mill. The Indians’ slugging shortstop became expendable after his club traded for former Red Sock Mike Aviles and has been subsequently tied to the Cardinals by multiple sources. While shortstop is clearly the organization’s biggest hole (i.e. injury concerns, lack of quality depth and a dearth of farm system talent) and Cabrera represents an offensive upgrade, fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. There are simply too many things standing in the way of a deal getting done.
First and foremost, there is the issue of money. Cabrera is set to make $16.5 million over the next two seasons ($10 mil in 2014) and the Cards are still on the hook for $7 million owed to Rafael Furcal next year. Seven million dollars is not an insane amount of money in baseball these days, but the Cardinals are a shrewd franchise and that is a decent amount of cheddar to shell out for a guy to sit on the bench and cheer. So essentially they would be paying $13.5 million for the “combo” of Furcal and Cabrera in 2013. Not exactly a bargain.
Then there is the issue of where the general manager stands. Sure it may be posturing or a potential smokescreen, but John Mozeliak has already come out and said publicly that he believes in the team’s internal options at the position and would be “very hesitant” to make a move. Meaning he wants to use Furcal (if healthy to start the season) until he eventually breaks down and then continue the carryover of the Pete Kozma experiment from the 2012 run. Let’s not forget Mo’s penchant for putting long term trust in a middle infielder that had a hot start to his big league career (see: Brendan Ryan, Daniel Descalso).
Moving on, we still have to grace the issue with what the Cardinals would have to give up in return for Cabrera. The Indians are looking for a powerful bat that would fill a hole at DH or first base, giving Matt Adams some intriguing value, but it’s going to take much more than that to land As-Cab. The Indians want young pitching, and want it badly. They are building toward the future and the Cards have loads of promising arms that they would love to pilfer. Some local pundits seem to think that the Cards could get away with offering up Seth Blair, Eduardo Sanchez or Jorge Rondon in a package deal with Adams or another bat, but the much more likely scenario is that the Tribe is eyeing someone in the Shelby Miller -Trevor Rosenthall- Lance Lynn - Carlos Martinez - Michael Wacha group. Even Joe Kelly (who in my mind is inferior to the aforementioned group) may not entice the Indians. And Mo is not a fan of trading pitching talent for position players. Especially young, inexpensive talent with decidedly high ceilings.
Finally, we have Cabrera himself. Is he an offense upgrade? No doubt. Would it be nice to have some thunder in a position that has been perpetually light-hitting for the last decade? Of course. But there is some downside to the two-time All Star. After a breakout season in 2011 (.273/25/92 with 32 doubles, 17 steals and a .792 OPS), he took a step back last year posting a .270/16/68 line with 35 doubles, nine steals and a .762 OPS. Certainly not pedestrian numbers for a shortstop, but worthy of almost $14 million and two high-end prospects? Not quite. Cabrera also has experienced diminished range over the past couple seasons – not to mention 19 errors last year – and the Cards are not at a point where they want to sacrifice defense… especially up the middle. As-Cab also strikes out a lot (218 times over the last two seasons) and doesn’t get on base much, posting just .332 and .338 percentages the last two years respectively. So despite being an upgrade in the offensive department, he’s not exactly elite. Certainly not after last year’s decline.
That being said, there are just too many hoops and roadblocks for this deal to ever come to fruition. While it was exciting to hear about a potential big name at a position that has plagued the Cards recently, it’s not gonna happen. So don’t expect to see Asdrubal Cabrera jerseys on the racks at Macys or the Birds Nest or Walgreens or wherever you buy your Cardinals swag. They won’t be there. There are probably still some Tatis jerseys left at 90% off though.