Our friends at The DiaTribe wrote a solid analysis on options for the Indians #1 hole, left field. To me, the Tribe is one more solid bat away from being lethal. With C.C.'s impending free agency, the time is now to strike. The iron is hot, and the Tribe is considered a hot team. With the dearth of major league-ready starting pitching they have, this offseason is the one to take your shot at a blockbuster deal.
Marlins Third Basemen Miguel Cabrera is the biggest name available in trade. The 24 year old stud from Venezuelan is a hitting machine. In his four and a half years as an everyday player, he has averaged .313, 31 HR, and 118 RBI per a full 162 game season. While their are concerns about his weight and his work ethic, he has never played less than 157 games in the last four years. From a financial standpoint, Cabrera is arbitration eligible for two more years, and made $7.5 million last year. You can expect him to get $10 million over the next two years.
The good news for GM Mark Shapiro would be you know he would be off the books in two years and is still an extremely tradeable commodity if things didn't work out after a year. How good would he look hitting cleanup between Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner? He is a right-handed bat which would be the perfect compliment. While he is hardly a gold-glover at third, he is viewed as an above average defender. With all the money he will have at stake, expect him to get into the best shape of his career and improved defensively. Did I mention that he won't be 25 until April?
Reports from the Winter Meetings are that the Marlins made Cabrera available, but are asking for the moon. They are reportedly looking for major league ready starting pitching, a center fielder, a third basemen, and whatever else can be thrown in. Other than the Indians, the Angels, Dodgers seem to be the leading suitors for Cabrera. Both organizations, like the Indians, have good young talent to offer. If I'm Shapiro, I think I've got a decent enough package for them to bite. I'd offer their choice of Cliff Lee or Jeremy Sowers, Ben Francisco, Andy Marte, and maybe even Casey Blake to land the slugger.
Stick with me here. Francisco is ready to play everyday, but there may not be a spot for him with the Tribe next year. He won the AAA batting title last year and showed promise in his stints with the big club. He can play all three outfield positions as well. With Aaron Laffey, Adam Miller, and Chuck Lofgren, trading either Lee or Sowers won't break the Indians, plus, both seemed to have fallen behind Laffey for the fifth spot in the rotation. To me, Lee is the perfect National League pitcher. He needs a change of scenery and has a manageable contract for a guy who once won 18 games. Marte is out of options and with Cabrera coming in, there would be no need to keep him around. Blake could start and play anywhere for the Marlins.
Makes sense, doesn't it?
With Cabrera at third, you could live with the Michaels/Dellucci platoon in left field, hitting ninth. If that failed, you still have Shin-Soo Choo and AA batting king Jordan Brown in reserve, or bringing back Kenny Lofton for one more year is always an option. Look at what the Tribe lineup would look like. Tell me this doesn't sound great to you:
CF Grady Sizemore
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
C Victor Martinez
3B Miguel Cabrera
DH Travis Hafner
1B Ryan Garko
SS Jhonny Peralta
RF Franklyn Gutierrez
LF David Dellucci/Jason Michaels
2B Josh Barfield
UTL Chris Gomez
C Kelly Shoppach
OF Shin-Soo Choo
My mouth is watering just thinking of the possibilities with the Indians current rotation and a quality bullpen. Other than adding one more reliever to help Perez and Betancourt in the 8th, nothing more would be needed. You take your shot with C.C. in 2008, then let him walk, promoting one of your young guns (Miller or Lofgren) in his place. Imagine the possibilities.
We all know how hard it was just to get to Game Seven of the ALCS. You have got to strike while the iron is hot. The window can close in the blink of an eye. I do not want to see that happen. So bring me Miguel Cabrera....ASAP!