Thursday, February 10, 2011

Indians Sign Orlando Cabrera

*Update* Contract is for 1.0m.

*Update* It's a MLB contact (still no word on the terms) which means the Indians will need to drop someone from the 40-man roster. My guess as to who will be dropped remains unaffected. 

No details yet but the Indians have acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera. The Indians are actually pretty well set in the middle with Asdrubal Cabrera at short and a bevy of options including Luis Valbuena, or Jason Donald who are already on the MLB roster, and Jason Kipnis, or Cord Phelps in the minors.

Once an all-star caliber shortstop who averaged 3.1 WAR per year from 2003-2008, the 36 year old Cabrera (the Orlando version) has seen his game decline quickly the past few years and has been bounced between five teams over the past three seasons - and the Indians will be his sixth stop.

From 2001-2007, Cabrera averaged a .731 OPS, which isn't great, but it would be solidly above average at the position now. He combined that solid offense with good, and occasionally spectacular defense that was legitimately Gold-Glove worthy in 2005, 2007, and 2008.

Unfortunately, age has caught up to Cabrera who has posted an average OPS of just .692 (still around league average) the past three years and his once elite defense is also trending toward mediocrity and was legitimately BAD in 2009 when he posted a -12.1 UZR/150. He bounced back defensively in limited action last year, and perhaps as a back-up at the position could still be a useful plug in in the event of injury or ineffectiveness from Asdrubal Cabrera.

Of course transactions don't play out in a vacuum and this signing will have implications on the rest of the team. The Indians were prepared to field a team loaded with middle-infield mediocrity and upside yesterday, and the Cabrera signing will certainly take MLB at-bats - to say nothing of a roster spot - away from someone, the question is who.

Jayson Nix would be my odds-on favorite. He'll be 29 this year and really has nothing left to show. He's not going to play second base for this team and neither his defense nor his bat will play at third. The team could look to give Donald a chance there, or if they're concerned about Kipnis' ability to stick at second, they could slide him over there as well. It would certainly help alleviate what's become a bit of a log-jam situation with three youngsters, all of whom have at least some promise, at one position.

Corey Ettinger is a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates and random thoughts.

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