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Winter Meetings Recap: Cabrera trade talks are fluid

Winter Meetings Recap: Cabrera trade talks are fluid
December 6, 2012
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Day four of the winter meetings is almost in the books. The news and rumors are winding down as people have already began departing Nashville, but the activity should continue through most of the rest of today. If anything of substance regarding the Indians has legs we will provide the update on Twitter @TonyIPI and on the “news” page here on the site.

Here is a recap of all the Indians news from today, which is much shorter considering how quiet things have been the past 24 hours:

- What’s going on with this massive three or four team trade? This thing has been fluid over the past 72 hours with many different teams involved in it, though the Diamondbacks and Rangers have been the two constants. Up until today the Indians had been constants in those talks, but Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is now saying the blockbuster deal may just involve three teams the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays and that the Indians are out of it. The non-inclusion of the Indians would appear that they have dropped out of discussions with the Diamondbacks to send them shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera for young pitching, but the rumored three-team deal would supposedly not net the Diamondbacks a shortstop. If this is the case, then it would be safe to assume that the Indians and Diamondbacks are working on a traditional two-team trade between one another because both seem to want to get a deal done since the Diamondbacks want a shortstop and the Indians want young pitching. Momentum was being gained in the talks where last night some people in the industry felt a deal might get done today, but as the minutes and hours keep ticking away the chances of that appear remote. The Indians are also reportedly talking to other teams about Cabrera. Bottom line, whether they trade Cabrera today or in the coming days or weeks, it looks likely that the Indians will move him at some point this offseason.

- One of the interesting rumors that came about last evening was the Indians were talking to the Dodgers about shortstop Dee Gordon. They also have talked to free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. This obviously would be in response to a Cabrera trade, so the Indians appear to lining their ducks up in a row. The Indians may still go with Mike Aviles at shortstop if they trade Cabrera, but they still may opt to use him in a super utility role and bring in a stop gap option at shortstop (Drew) or a longer term option (Gordon). An acquisition of Gordon would be interesting as he is more of a long term solution at the position, and everyone knows the Indians have star prospect Francisco Lindor waiting in the wings. But, provided Lindor stays healthy and continues to develop and perform as hoped, he is probably still two or three years away from the big leagues as he probably would not debut until sometime at the end of the 2014 season or during the 2015 season. Gordon is a former high profile prospect that is young, plays very good defense, is athletic and has lots of speed. He has no power and the bat has been a question mark so far in his big league career, but he has held his own and many feel he is just beginning to come into his own. If the Indians were to trade Cabrera for pitching and somehow reel in Gordon, it would be a fantastic swap. Of course, to get Gordon the Indians would have to part with some valuable players, so my excitement may need to be tempered until I see what they potentially give up.

- The sweepstakes for first baseman/third baseman Kevin Youkilis could be coming to a close. The Yankees have reportedly offered him a one year $12 million deal, and the Indians and a few other teams are said to be in the mix and have offered two year deals for $16-18 million. The feeling from many in the industry is it could be down to the Indians and Yankees. He would get a lot more for one season with the Yankees, but with Alex Rodriguez expected back in June or July it could limit him to a designated hitter role. If he signs with the Indians, they would look at him as their primary first baseman but also have him as the designated hitter from time to time and maybe even give him a few games at first base. So, the playing opportunity appears to be better with the Indians, but the opportunity to win is better with the Yankees.

- Speaking of first basemen, the Indians have a lot. Even before a potential signing of Youkilis, the Indians have the likes of Matt LaPorta, Lars Anderson, Russ Canzler, Mike McDade, and now Chris McGuiness in tow as Major League options at first base. The Indians selected McGuiness in the Rule 5 Draft today, so he will obviously be given every opportunity to make the big league roster as the regular first baseman. He is a big left-handed hitter with a good eye at the plate, some solid power, and plays average defense at first base. The Rangers were also supposedly toying around with the idea of having him play some left field this offseason to add to his versatility, so that is something the Indians will probably continue to experiment with this coming spring so he can make the roster as a left-handed bat on the bench that can play left field, first base and designated hitter. With the absence of a true designated hitter after the departure of Travis Hafner, this could allow the Indians some flexibility in keeping two first base types on the roster and have more platoons.

- The Indians lost right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft today (Cubs, 2nd). Rondon is an interesting case as he was a minor league free agent that the Indians just resigned two months ago. He has pitched just 10.0 innings over the last two seasons - 41.2 innings over the last three seasons - because of elbow surgery in 2010 and an elbow fracture in 2011. He is having a very good showing this offseason in the Venezuela Winter League and his velocity is back in the mid-90s, so obviously the Cubs liked what they saw of him and are taking a small gamble on him. This is a case where I think the Cubs did him a disservice as he would have probably benefited more from a normal spring training not having to work too hard to make a Major League roster and just opened the season in Triple-A. Coming off three years of injuries, any bit of normalcy would have really helped. Instead, he will now go into spring training fighting to stay with the Cubs and make their big league opening day roster, which means he will overexert himself and could result in another injury or a lack of performance. That said, he is deserving of the selection and I wish him well, and considering his injury history and how much easier it is to hide a reliever on a Major League roster, he could be gone for good. It is not a big loss as his prospect value is minimal, but he could become a solid middle reliever in the big leagues if he stays healthy.

- The Indians also lost left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland in the Rule 5 Draft today (Orioles, 23rd). He had a fine season overall, but after an impressive showing at Double-A Akron he really struggled in his first taste of Triple-A when he went to Columbus in June. He has average stuff with a high 80s fastball that touches the low 90s at times and a solid slider, but what makes him valuable is his ability to get groundballs with plus sinker. He is a lot like former Indians lefty Aaron Laffey as an athletic groundball machine from the left side, and will probably initially break into the big leagues in a swing role where he starts and pitches in long relief. Because he does not miss a lot of bats along and he also had a subpar showing in Triple-A this year, barring something surprising happening with him this spring, he will probably be returned to the Indians at some point. It is important to note that while every player has a chance to stick that generally 20-25% of all players selected are returned to their former teams, so all of McFarland, Rondon and McGuiness have the odds stacked against them. But, like I said with Rondon, I wish them all the best and lots of luck in achieving that big league dream.

Quick hits

- The Indians still remain as one of the main suitors for outfielder Nick Swisher. The Red Sox and Giants are supposedly out of the running for him, leaving the Indians, Mariners and Phillies as his strongest suitors. He is expected to wait and see what happens with outfielder Josh Hamilton because teams that lose out on Hamilton are expected to jump into the mix on him and his market could explode – which of course is not good for the Indians.

- The Indians have reportedly talked to outfielder Ryan Ludwick. He could be another fallback option for the outfield if they are unable to sign Swisher.

- The Indians have also reportedly talked to right-handed pitcher Mike Pelfrey. He had Tommy John surgery back in the spring, so he probably would miss the first month or two of the season, but is a big right-handed starter that teams may like as an option for the second half of the season.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

matt underwood
December 7, 2012 - 9:55 AM EST
Tony - I think it is time to move on from reclamation projects as well as over the hill veterans who can't hit their weight. They need to find real players, for instance the guys they are trying to trade. Im not saying im against the possible trade scenarios floated, but if the indians are in the FA marketplace, dont blow $20m on garbage (i.e. youklis).

Rich is right, now matter what they get back in trades, the team is going to still be horrible. Save the money and invest in the farm system.

I have less than zero faith in this organization to do the right thing, so if they did invest in the farm system they probably would forget to sign the checks. I hate Shaprio & Antonetti

December 7, 2012 - 8:52 AM EST
Rich, you have to remember that Youkilis had a back injury the last two years. He was finally getting healthy with the White Sox this season and hit .236/.346/.425. Not great but getting back to where he once was. I don't think the Indians or anyone expects Youkilis to be the player he was a few years ago, but he is a leader and clubhouse guy this team needs and a professional bat to insert into the middle of the lineup that can put up an OPS around .800 that will certainly help. Time will tell how he does, but Canzler and others can't provide that. Canzler is WAY overvalued by a lot of fans if you ask me. He's a Shelley Duncan type at best. I'd rather move on from guys like that than guys like Youkilis.
December 7, 2012 - 8:44 AM EST
Youkilis' BA and slugging percentage over the last three years:

2010 .307/.564
2011 .258/.459
2012 .235/.409

Can anybody spot a trend here? By the way, the guy is 33 years old.

I can't believe they offered him $16-18 million to maybe hit .235 for the next two years. Heck, I'll bet Canzler could do that and match Youk's power numbers, such as they are.

I don't get the interest in players like Youkiilis and Bay. Supposedly the Indians are on the cutting edge in advanced metrics. It doesn't take sophisticated analysis to figure out these guys are toast.

Didn't they learn anything from the Damon and Delucci deals? Forget the reclamation projects and focus on getting some young arms with upsides.

I don't mind if they take a chance on somebody if they can get him cheap, like when they signed Austin Kearns on the cheap. He had a nice first half and they flipped him for Zach McAlister. But don't throw big bucks at guys who have nothing left but their names.
Cleveland fan in Cali
December 7, 2012 - 12:54 AM EST
Agree with Rob & Jake. I don't fault the Indians for holding onto Cabrera or Choo until they a worthwhile deal, but don't waste big money on stopgap solutions (i.e Ross, Bay, etc): invest that money back into our woeful farm system, and build a real team the long, hard way. The best GM's/FO's can manipulate the market to make others think they're losing when they're actually coming out ahead, and vice versa. I get the feeling Antonetti/Shapiro aren't really respected league wide, and teams are balking at their demands on the strength of their track record. Almost like they're sitting at the kids table while the big boys are at the grownup table..
December 6, 2012 - 11:04 PM EST
Guarantee other GM's and free agents know that there is no direction with this team. Let's dump Cabrera and Choo and then spend 25 million a year on Youkilis and Swisher with a staff that would struggle to win at AAA. Sounds like a great plan to me. But then again these are the same morons who thought 2012 would be the big "window" year. These assclowns think they are re-inventing the wheel and instead they are playing catch-up to GM's and organizations that are 5 years ahead of them. I'm sure at some point Shapiro will brag about how they knew Alex White wouldn't be a top flight starter, but they were still the jackasses who drafted him in the first round. No accountability, no urgency, just incompetence. Can't wait for the Sizemore, Hafner and Carmandez signings and more doubletalk excuses from the boy geniuses.
December 6, 2012 - 10:28 PM EST
How much sense does it make to offer 4 years for 44 million to Shane victorino but last year they wouldn't give Josh Willingham a third year. The Indians front office just doesnt get it. I'm starting to think the Indians would have been better off hiring francona as the general manager and bringing in someone else to be the head coach. Francona is a better mind than anyone in the Indians current front office. To the person saying the Indians were smart not moving cabrera.........they were offered two high end prospects and a starting pitcher. They will not get more than that at anytime for Cabrera. Lastly about choo.......there is a new rule about free agents. you have to have a player the whole season to get draft compensation for a player leaving in free agency. So if the Indians trade choo at the trade deadline they actually will get less value out of him then than before the season starts. Do to the fact the team we trade him to would get nothing back if he leaves at the end if the season. unlike how a trading team knew they would get draft pick compensation if the player left. The Indians did nothing last offseason........nothing at last trade deadline........and nothing at this winter meeting.....a wise man once said. If your not getting better you are getting worse. Doing nothing is not helping a last place team with no minor league talent higher than class A ball. This team with the roster they have right now would be lucky to not lose 100 games at this point. Make a move or quit and let someone come in and least make an effort. The front office is letting the team, the town, and most important their fans down.
December 6, 2012 - 8:00 PM EST
Antonetti, had he been the GM under a George Steinbrenner would be fired today! Antonetti is incompetent, a poor judge of talent, , continually gets schooled by rival GM's. However in this joke of a front office he will get a promotion. You have to go back to the days of Joe Klein in the mid 80's to find an equally incompetent General manager. This retard throws money at aging washed up has beens such as Victorino, , Bay, Sizemore, Damon, Kotchman. Chris Antonetti is a clown who would have fit in well with Ted Stepiens Cavaliers front office. He is that illiterate. Too bad Pete Franklin isnt alive and on radio. He would have run this POS and the entire sad sack Tribe FO out of town!
Bernie Kosar
December 6, 2012 - 7:13 PM EST
"Thanks, dude, thank you, bro, thanks, bro, ok thanks, man."
December 6, 2012 - 6:47 PM EST
Shy, I know how bad they are, and I know how much they need, but the answer doesn't lie in overpaying washed up players or making undervalued trades. They don't need to trade anyone now if the value isn't there. Keep Choo until July when his value may increase, same with Perez. The only reason at all to trade ACab was to bring in multiple, close to major league pitchers and they couldn't get it. Creating a hole at shortstop to bring on a possible major league player isn't worth it. So yes, I would like to see them improve, but signing Victorino for 4 years and trading an all-star shortstop (yes I know he has his flaws) for a maybe pitcher isn't the answer. I wish we were in a different position, but we aren't and from the one we are in, I don't see any mistakes yet for these meetings.
December 6, 2012 - 6:27 PM EST
Meant to say Bauer or Skaggs, not Blake. Blake, Skaggs, Tyler, Trevor, these names are running together like raindrops on a window and trickling away, I'm so pist at Antonetti and Shapiro.
December 6, 2012 - 6:23 PM EST
James- the Indians finished last in the A.L. Central and as of the close of Nashville the team is essentially the same, and the competition is the same or better. If the Cabrera for Bauer or Blake trade is a bust. there is no one to blame but Antonetti- it was there for the taking. The Indians don't need Cabrera, they don't need Chris Perez, they don't need Choo and they certainly don't need any more flat footed left handed first basemen in training. Antonetti could have passed on MgGinnis or whatever his name is and rostered Rondon. They need young high ceiling starting pitching and a young right-handed outfielder that can run, hit, field. So far Antonetti gets an F, not that his performance should surprise anyone
December 6, 2012 - 5:51 PM EST
I too would love the Indians to be major wheeler-dealers, but sometimes no deal is better than a deal for deals sake, and it sounds like the Indians are being smart so far. An affordable all-star shortstop is clearly worth more than one top-line pitching prospect and I while would love to get two for him, it doesn't seem like it will happen. So, no deal. That's wise. I would also similarly not want to overpay for mediocre talent that is going to weigh down the team both in salary and position. Keep in mind, if the Indians sign Youk(or if they had signed Victorino etc) for 2 years, he is playing for two years, for better or for worse. Sometimes, no deal is better than a bad deal. While I am disappointed Choo, ACab and Perez are still Indians, as of now, I can't fault the Indians so far.
December 6, 2012 - 4:01 PM EST
The Indians have spent the last 10 years doing nothing. spending low and rebuilding year after year. Because they keep doing this no free agents want to sign here and no front offices take us seriously in trade talks. We played hard ball will asdrubal and we missed out on a major league starting pitcher and two high level prospects. Its time to send aintonetti and Shapiro packing and rebuild our front office. This team needs to blow everything up and start over from the top down. I'm quite disappointed and its time for a change.
December 6, 2012 - 3:06 PM EST
I wonder whether anything will happen though. I would've thought a multi-team deal would be a better way to go. That way they could potentially move Cabrera and Chris Perez both to get Bauer and another good prospect at a position of need. That would also free up about another $14 million, and give them the cash to actually compete for Swisher and Youkilis, and potentially a pitcher as well. The D-backs would be nuts to trade Bauer and another good prospect themselves for just Cabrera, unless there's a 99% change Bauer's elbow's about to pop.

I don't know about Youkilis having a better shot to win in NY. That is an aging, decaying team, committed to a lower payroll, facing a stacked Toronto team, a tough Rays team, and a Red Sox team with a lot of cash to spend, and the Orioles, who may not be able to duplicate last year's success, but are still better than most everyone in the Central. If Cleveland were to sign Youk and Swisher and land a pitcher, I'd bet on Cleveland making the playoffs over NYY. I think Steinbrenner has practically capitulated, realizing the path to the playoffs is too tough over the next couple years, and they'd need to spend too much and have too much go right to beat out the better-positioned, younger teams.
December 6, 2012 - 3:05 PM EST
I agree Tony, but for a change, coming out of these meetings with some meat would have been nice. These meetings have become a country club, where a lot of discussions take place, but nothing resolved. Patience is a virtue, but I'm afraid it's lost on a lot of die hard fans of the Tribe.
December 6, 2012 - 2:28 PM EST
What Towers said is simply GM talk. He's trying to get the Indians to back off their demands. If he really believed that, then they wouldn't have spent so much time the past two weeks trying to acquire Cabrera.

Also, Joe, there is ample time to complete some deals and get them under the Christmas tree before Dec 25. Have a feeling a lot of moves around the league get finished over next 7-10 days, and the Indians could be in a few of those.
December 6, 2012 - 2:15 PM EST
I keep seeing that Kevin Towers wants a SS that they will control for more than 2 years. I guess it could just be GM talk.

Any thoughts on bringing in Ryan Garko and Russell Branyan to compete with the 8 other guys for 1B?
December 6, 2012 - 1:55 PM EST
Well this is certainly a disappointment. Was hoping something positive would materialize, and give us something to enjoy Christmas with .Guess we were all hoping against hope that Antonetti would make this deal come together, but he has left us at the alter again. On a side note, have to wonder if the front office has put too high a price tag on Cabrera. As Tribe fans, we all know his shortcomings, but perhaps wish other teams would look past that to fill their needs. We are not privy to these discussions,of course, but have to wonder if this was possibly a stumbling block.
December 6, 2012 - 1:47 PM EST
I wouldn't go that far cwltribe. The winter meetings for the most part had lots of talk and little action this year. A lot of deals are going to be announced over the next 7-10 days, so while it is disappointing to not get anything done yet and probably not before the meetings end, the Indians are clearly going to make a few moves very soon. I'm encouraged more than ever they have changed. Will they make the right deals? That remains to be seen. But, they are going to try to make them and be aggressive and ultimately finish through on a few.
December 6, 2012 - 1:24 PM EST
Turned out to be an interesting day after all, but mostly due to the Tribe's inactivity on the trade front.

Not sure i get the Indians picking up Chris McGuiness. We'll see how this goes.
December 6, 2012 - 1:19 PM EST
Lots of talk , no action. Lets see the Tribe actually do something for once. I will be disappointed if we do not do something at these winter meetings. Give the Fans something. Hope !

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