In what will go down as one of Chris Antonetti final moves as Cleveland Indians general manager, Marc Rzepczynski was sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for a little-known fourth outfielder named Abraham Almonte. The trade seemed fine at the time; Rzepczynski was struggling with the Indians, but the Padres needed a bullpen arm. Neither team could have imagined the kind of offensive boost the 26-year-old outfielder would bring in his 56 games with the Indians.
Abraham (or "Baberaham," if you will), was tremendous in his first week on his new team. Almonte exploded onto the scene in his first game with the Tribe, going 4-for-5 with a home run and two doubles in a 17-4 walloping of the divisional rival Minnesota Twins. Over the course of his first six games on the Indians, he tallied 10 hits, including two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and hit six runs batted in.
Almonte was so good that, despite only playing for 48 hours for the Tribe at the voting time, he won the Let’s Go Tribe Player of the Week fan vote on August 10 (Jason chose that scrub Michael Brantley. H8er).
Almontemania hit an all-time high on August 30 when a sixth-inning grand slam helped put a game against the Los Angeles Angels out of reach. He was hitting, he was fielding, he was being everything the Indians could have expected and then some out of a trade for a middle reliever.
Unfortunately, Almonte would not maintain his .357/.379/.786 first-week slash and go down as the greatest offensive centerfielder in Indians history. Instead, he came back down to Earth as a serviceable fourth outfielder. All told, in 196 plate appearances for the Tribe, Almonte ended the season with a .264/.321/.455 slash (111 wRC+), with five home runs and five triples.
On any other team, Almonte would likely not be a starting centerfielder. His defense is adequate, but not enough to overcome a below-average bat. The 51 games Almonte played with the Tribe was his best span of his career, and he still only finished with a 111 wRC+. However, given the current state of the Indians outfield, Almonte could find himself starting next year in center, unless the Indians address the need in free agency or via trade this offseason. And if it is addressed, the Indians are left with a very good fourth outfield option, who could easily come in at any position and fill in effectively.
Despite potentially already hitting his ceiling, Almonte provided a much-needed spark for the outfield and gave us something exciting to watch when the team chugged through August and into September.