The Indians are definitely doing more adding than subtracting at the moment, but they’ve decided Orlando Cabrera is expendable and they traded him to the Giants for outfielder Thomas Neal.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com and Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle had the initial reports.
Cabrera had hit just .244/.277/.321 while serving as the Indians’ primary second baseman for most of the first four months. He had recently lost time to rookie Jason Kipnis, and he figured to see his role scaled back further. With Cabrera out of the picture, the Indians could bring back either Cord Phelps or Luis Valbuena from the minors.
The Giants will likely shift Cabrera back to his natural position of shortstop. He probably won’t be an everyday guy, but he should be able to help out, particularly against lefties in a job share with Mike Fontenot. One wonders if Miguel Tejada will be released to make room for him.
Neal, 23, is a fringe prospect. He had a big year at Single-A San Jose in 2009, but he posted a .799 OPS in Double-A in 2010 and a .761 mark in the PCL so far this year. He projects as a fourth outfielder at best in the majors, and he probably won’t make a significant contribution this year.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.