July 31, 2014
If You've Got Asdrubal...
While 52 plate appearances doesn't even begin to sniff the edges of sample size relevance, Walters does tempt scouts and fans alike into believing he could continue posting rate stats similar to his "career" line so far of .234/.308/.489. As Professor Parks called it before the season, "Walters brings some legit thunder in the stick."
That said, it's unlikely Walters will either hit or field as well for the remainder of 2014 as the man he's being traded for would have. But, while Cabrera was fielding adequately in 2014, his bat has just been a hollow memory of better days, and the dropoff to Walters isn't likely to be much. Considering that Cabrera's contract is up after this year, the Indians obviously improved their long-term outlook, even if Walters turns out to be unable to translate his Syracuse .600 into Cleveland competence.
Whether he'll even get a shot at providing "thunder" to the 2014 Indians will depend largely on when Francisco Lindor gets the call. Walters' ability to play many positions will help the team, regardless. MIke Aviles and Jose Ramirez certainly haven't been providing much value as utility infielders. —Rob McQuown
More of the same for Walters as the athletic middle infielder goes from one crowded situation to another. One could argue that Walters deserves an up arrow as he might get some immediate playing time, should the Tribe choose to ease in top prospect Francisco Lindor, but the reality is that he’s stuck playing behind Kipnis and Lindor for years to come. He’s a low-average, good power bat, which is nice to have around in real life, but not useful in fantasy unless he’s getting ample playing time.
Not that Cabrera was a major hurdle for Lindor, but there are essentially no obstacles in the way of Lindor’s ascendance at this point. He’s not going to be an impact fantasy player from day one, but at his peak he could positively impact a fantasy team in batting average and stolen bases, while producing average power numbers for the position. In the near term his biggest contribution is likely to be on the basepaths, as he’s got great instincts paired with above-average speed. Discounting immediate production is standard for rookies, but Lindor has such a natural feel for the game – as well as a compact, level swing – that it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he experiences success early on. In any keeper league, he’s a must-add, even if it’s just to trade him in the offseason. Redraft leaguers can feel free to take a flier, but he’s not a must-grab. —Craig Goldstein
Acquired SS-S Asdrubal Cabrera and cash considerations from Cleveland Indians for INF-S Zach Walters [7/31]
Asdrubal Cabrera entered 2013 as a .279 hitter with a .342 on-base average and a .416 slugging percentage. His batting average on balls in play was .319. Far be it for a writer to question his motivation, as most of us couldn't make it to Triple-A even if we had Michael Jordan's #want. But he's clearly been a different man since then. His batting line has fallen to .244/.301/.395, his BABIP just .284 (while BABIP is often luck-based, it can also be symptomatic of less hard contact and/or less hustle), and his strikeout rate nearly 20 percent. But if the Nationals think he presents a "leadership problem," they figure the upside is worth it. Not to mention the fact that they need someone.
Anthony Rendon has been everything hoped for and more. Many weren't sure he'd be able to play decent defense at the keystone, but he has acquitted himself nicely. But he's a natural third baseman, and Ryan Zimmerman can't seem to stay in the lineup while playing the hot corner, and is on the shelf for most of the remainder anyway. Adding Cabrera allows the Nats to play two All-Star shortstops up the middle and also reclaim some of the outs that Danny Espinosa was sucking up. So, even at his recent Tribe levels, Cabrera should be a welcome addition. Add in the possibility that Matt Williams will find some magic button to push that will summon back Asdrubal the Younger, and the team is primed for a pennant push. —Rob McQuown
Not much changes for Cabrera in the fantasy landscape. He’s going to add a little positional flexibility by playing second base, and he’ll benefit from what should be an improved lineup, but he’s still the same player with the same eroding skill set that he was in Cleveland.
It’s a bad trend for his value, but this might help fantasy owners, as those who were playing Espinosa were only hurting themselves. Still, when Asdrubal Cabrera is an offensive upgrade, it’s bad news for one’s fantasy value. Cut him in all leagues.
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @cdgoldstein