Obviously Asdrubal Cabrera still has value in the major leagues, and no one would take Jose Ramirez over A-Cab in the long run. But since he was set to become a free agent, Cabrera’s value to the Indians was strictly about 2014, and in the short-term he may have been more of a hinderance.
Cabrera’s defense has been in steady decline since making the transition from second base, and it was having a dramatic effect on the Tribe’s pitching staff, which leads the majors in unearned runs this season.
Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has been credited with -23 Defensive Runs Saved. Regardless of the stat you’re looking at, 10 runs equates to roughly one win in the standings, which means since the start of the 2013 season Cabrera’s defensive has cost the Tribe approximately two victories.
As awful as Cabrera had been in the field, it would have been forgivable if he made up for it with his bat. But during that same time span, Baseball Prospectus’ VORP statistics credits Cabrera with a score of 24.1—roughly equivalent to two wins.
In other words, the Indians could have picked someone up off the scrap heap and probably seen the same results.
For now, Jose Ramirez steps into Cabrera’s place at shortstop, where he’ll offer an immediate upgrade defensively. Offensively, it remains to be seen if Ramirez can cut it at the major league level, but it’s not unreasonable to expect his overall performance to be an upgrade for the Tribe at shortstop.
In 49 major league innings at shortstop, Ramirez has been credited with zero DRS, but has a positive UZR value (something Cabrera never accomplished as the Tribe’s everyday shortstop).
If Ramirez can simply hit at a replacement level rate, his defensive contributions should prove to be enough to give the Indians a nice boost down the stretch.