There is a very good chance that Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera will not be with the team in 2014.
The only question is how the Indians will move him to further cement their status as a contender.
It is already known that the Indians and St. Louis Cardinals have talked about a trade involving Cabrera. The Cardinals are stocked with dynamic young pitchers, though the emergence of Danny Salazar has allowed the Indians to focus their efforts on finding a middle-of-the-order bat.
With that in mind, Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams has emerged as the perfect trade target.
It works out perfectly for both sides: shortstop has been an issue for St. Louis this season, as Pete Kozma only hit .217/.275/.548 with one home run and 35 RBI in 410 at-bats. Cabrera is beginning to wear out his welcome in Cleveland, and in a down year, managed to hit .242/.299/.700 with 14 home runs and 62 RBI.
Cabrera is signed through 2014, and like most players, he’ll probably perform much better in his contract year. The Indians likely have no future interest in him, though, as Francisco Lindor is rocketing up through the minors and could even find his way to Cleveland at some point next season.
This is where Adams comes in. Though the Cardinals need a shortstop, they are well-stocked at almost every other position, leaving Adams as the odd man out.
Allen Craig is going to be the team’s first baseman for the foreseeable future, as he was recently signed through 2018, and with the lack of a DH, the Cardinals just don’t have a place for Adams.
Instead, they have a trade chip the Indians could certainly use.
This season, Adams hit .284/.335/.839 with 17 home runs, 51 RBI and 14 doubles in only 296 at-bats. He is exactly the kind of hitter the Indians need, and the 25-year-old won’t come with an especially steep price tag. He isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016 and the earliest he can be a free agent is 2019.
A move like that also allows the Indians to work towards re-signing Scott Kazmir and/or Ubaldo Jimenez while looking forward to potentially locking up other members of their young core.
The Cardinals are likely more willing to deal Adams at this point and the two teams are already familiar with this scenario. It’s a mutually beneficial deal, one that alleviates an already-great team’s major concern while helping the other take the next step towards contention.
Cabrera is still a good player, and he’s only 27 years old. He has more value than one might think, especially if one considers his defense and even more so if he makes a move to the National League.
Both players could use a change of scenery; rarely do trades that make this much sense come along, but here it is, and it really should happen.