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Transactions: Indians Deal Orlando Cabrera to Giants

Jordan Bastian is reporting that the Indians have traded Orlando Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for AAA OF Thomas Neal.

Orlando Cabrera finishes his stint with the Indians with a .244/.277/.321 line, good for a 69 OPS+. That the Indians received a prospect for him is remarkable, and speaks to Cabrera's reputation that even though he should no longer be starting for major-league club, at least one GM was willing to trade an actual prospect for him. Cabrera in his prime was a very good defender at shortstop, but he's a long way from his prime. As a second baseman with the Indians, his range wasn't that great, and the Giants are going to start him at shortstop. Good luck with that. Cabrera for the season has a WAR (Wins above Replacement) of -0.1; even Miguel Tejada, who was having a poor season before the injury, had contributed a positive WAR (0.8).

With Jason Donald healthy and hitting well in Columbus (.306/.395/.445), and the Giants willing to give up a prospect, this a no-brainer from the Indians' perspective. Donald, who's been a bit forgotten because of injuries and the arrival of Kipnis and Chisenhall, gives the Indians a backup at second, short, and third that can also hit. Last season with the Indians, he posted a 93 OPS+ while playing shortstop and second base. I would even go so far to say that the Indians' 25-man roster gets better by trading Cabrera. So even if the Giants had sent a mysterious PTBNL or a 24-year-old relief pitcher in Low-A, I'd like this trade.

But the Giants sent back not only a player that might help the Indians down the road, but a player that fills a large hole in the system. Thomas Neal was given a B- grade by John Sickels before the season; Sickels at the time thought he could be a non-star regular player. Since then, though, he's had a decent (though disappointing) season in Fresno, hitting .295/.351/.409 with a poor SO/BB ratio as a 23-year-old. But even if you downgrade his upside from a starting corner outfielder to a fourth outfielder or possibly a first baseman/corner outfielder, his power potential from the right side of the plate gives the Indians something they didn't really have in the high minors.

There may be a lot of disagreement over the other trade of the day, but not for this one. The Indians improved their 25-man roster by substituting Donald for Cabrera and at the same time brought in a prospect that could help the club as soon as 2012.