With just 16 games left, the talk about the Indians is starting to change from "this team is soooo bad" to "exactly to what extent will the Indians break up the team." We've gone way past any talk of whether the Indians as presently constituted can compete, because thanks mostly to a horrible pitching staff, that isn't happening.
But while a large-market club in similar circumstances could simply sign a couple starters, the Indians don't have that option. And because there's a sizable gap in impact talent in between the majors and the low minors, reinforcements aren't going to come from the farm system, at least not in 2013 anyways. What you see on the major-league is pretty much what you're going to get. Yes, Carlos Carrasco will be back, and perhaps Hector Rondon will contribute somewhere, but you're likely looking a rotation that will contain five out of these guys:
Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, right? Of these guys, the only one I have some confidence in is Zach McAllister, and that confidence is based mainly on peripherals, not results.
So if the Indians don't have the high-level pitching prospects to plug into the rotation, and they don't have the money to buy an established starter, the only option that's left is the trade. And that's what Paul is looking at in today's Lazy Sunday. We know that Chris Perez is going to get dealt this winter due to baseball and non-baseball reasons, and Choo is probably just as likely since he's gone after the 2013 season. But what about trading Asdrubal Cabrera?
As I said, it only takes one (or two, to begin a bidding war) interested party and the invocation of the D-Backs brings me around to the third player that I think will be on the Trading Block this off-season – Asdrubal Cabrera. Realizing that this is a topic that I’ve already broached in this space, Cabrera’s second-half slide (again) have to force the Indians into thinking that he’s their most valuable trade asset, in terms of his offensive ability and his affordability over the next two years.
Even though the Indians don't have someone that could replace Asdrubal's production at the plate, shortstop is probably the one area that they have some organizational depth in. Juan Diaz has made some offensive strides at the plate this year, and finished the season in AAA, though I don't think he'll be an offensive force right away. After Diaz is Tony Wolters and Ronny Rodriguez in Carolina, and after them is of course Francisco Lindor in Lake County. The three lower-level players all should rank in the Indians' Top 10 prospects, and Diaz should show up on some lists as a sleeper prospect.
Cabrera is signed through 2014, and with the projected shortstop free agents looking rather thin at best, this winter might be the peak of Cabrera's trade value.
Speaking of shortstops, x-rays on Jason Donald's right forearm didn't show any broken bones. He'll probably sit out the next couple of days, but should get back in the lineup soon.
A brief Q and A with Thomas Neal, who was called up in September after a nice season in AA.