Last summer, an audience member at a luncheon I attended asked Indians President Mark Shapiro if any player was off-limits or untouchable as far as trades. He essentially said that nobody was completely off-limits. At the time, I remember thinking, “Yeah, but it’s not like you’re going to give up Chris Perez or Asdrubal Cabrera. Come on.” Of course as the season progressed, Perez made all sorts of wacky, incendiary comments and the Indians collapsed like a fat dog after a long walk, and it soon became clear that Mark Shapiro is not Rick Astley. Not only have Perez and Cabrera been mentioned as potential trades, so have Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, and Carlos Santana. More recently, GM Chris Antonetti said he “wasn’t looking to move those guys” but added that the team has to be “open-minded.”
I thought I’d look at each of these guys and see who I’d be willing to trade and who I would not.
Asdrubal Cabrera I confess to a soft spot for Cabrera. I know he has a tendency to come to Spring Training a bit overweight and had the distinction of being part of a three-way tie with Trevor Plouffe and Alcides Escobar for most errors committed (19) in the AL during 2012. But when he’s on, he’s on, both defensively and offensively. Our top prospect at short, Francisco Lindor, is a few years away from being ready to move up to the big leagues. I’m quite happy keeping a two-time All Star at short. Never gonna give you up, Asdrubal (provided “never” doesn’t extend beyond your 2014 contract).
Justin Masterson Masterson has only had two seasons (2008 and 2011) where his ERA was below 4.0, which makes me feel like he hasn’t yet reached his full potential as a pitcher. His 2011 gave us a glimpse of the pitcher he can be (3.21 ERA/3.6 WAR) but he never quite got the run support to bring him to ace level. He pitched well for Francona in Boston–something in that relationship works. Why trade him before we see if it can work again? Keep him.
Carlos Santana While I’ve never fully jumped onto the Santana bandwagon, he drove in 76 runs last year, was 3rd in the AL in walks, and had a 3.7 WAR (tied with Jason Kipnis for the highest on the team). He’s developing as a solid run producer. I’ll still give Lou Marson the edge behind the plate, but Santana is developing defensively. Keep him.
Shin-Soo Choo Choo missed a large portion of 2011 due to injury and started off the season with a DUI during Spring Training, but his 2012 was great. He started 155 games and hit .283/.373/.441 (avg/OBP/SLG), including 43 doubles (5th in the AL). Through his agent, Scott Boras, Choo has made it clear that he wants to play for a contender. He’s eligible for arbitration in January. At age 30, Choo probably will never be worth more as trade bait than he is right now. As much as it pains me to say it: trade him.
Chris Perez Perez had a 3.59 ERA and 39 saves (4th in the AL) in 2012. Perez is a damn good closer and a fun player to watch (STOOPID ranking: .75(A) + 1(Q) + 2(ID)=3.75), but his tendency of taking his pure rage and channeling it into rants against the fans or the ownership makes it a little easier to say goodbye. If we were to trade Perez, Vinnie Pestano would be the obvious choice to move into the closer role. I’d feel better about trading Perez if we hadn’t traded Esmil Rogers for a handful of magic beans, but Perez seems to be the player who could bring us the most in return without creating a new void to fill.