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Proposing a Red Sox-Indians Trade Involving Cabrera, Choo, Masterson

Asdrubal Cabrera (Jason Miller/Getty Images North America)

While the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are making big trades, re-signing existing players and extending their superstars, the Boston Red Sox have basically stood pat for the start of the MLB offseason.

One move that would make sense involves trading multiple prospects from the Red Sox to the Cleveland Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, and Justin Masterson.  If you’re a casual baseball fan you’re probably thinking….WHO???

Let me break down these three players from the Indians for you:

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera is a 27-year-old, switch-hitting, All-Star shortstop under contract until the 2014 season.  Cabrera is due $6.5 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014.  Over the last three seasons, Cabrera has averaged 130 games played while hitting .273 AVG/.333 OBP/.419 SLG/.752 OPS.

In 2012, Red Sox shortstops hit at .241 AVG/.278 OBP/.365 SLG/.642 OPS.  Cabrera’s numbers are superior in every offensive category to what the Red Sox have had at shortstop in the recent past.

Bill James projects Cabrera to hit .277 with 18 HRs, 37 2Bs, 82 runs scored and 73 RBI in 2013.

The Red Sox would love to get that type of production from the shortstop position.

Shin-Soo Choo

The second player in this blockbuster trade would be Choo.  Choo plays outfield, which is an area that the Red Sox currently need help with.   Defensively he is poor in right field, his range and his athleticism for an outfielder is below average.  Choo will turn 31 half way through the 2013 season and is under his last year of arbitration ($6-$7 million range), meaning he will become a free agent after the season.

Offensively Choo has averaged 128 games over the past three seasons while hitting .284/.378/.446/.824.  Those numbers are good for a corner outfielder but not particularly impressive.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Against right handed pitchers over the past three seasons Choo has hit .308/.403/.515/.918.  Those are All-Star caliber numbers.  You may be asking…well what does he hit against lefties?  These numbers are far from impressive .239/.329/.318/.647.

Here’s a thought!  Considering how well Choo hits against righties and how well newly acquired Jonny Gomes hits against lefties (last 3 yrs .296/.398/.506/.904), why not platoon left field with Choo and Gomes?

The outfield would then be Choo/Gomes in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Nick Swisher in right (assuming the Sox can sign him).

Justin Masterson

Another need for the Red Sox this offseason and almost any offseason is starting pitching.  Masterson is a former Red Sox right-handed pitching prospect who was traded to the Indians in the Victor Martinez trade.  Masterson will be 28 when the 2013 season begins and would be under the Red Sox control until 2014.  After a subpar year where he went, 11-15 with a 1.45 WHIP and 4.93 ERA, Masterson’s value is lower than it should be.  Masterson has averaged 200 innings over the past three seasons and was of only four MLB pitchers to make 34 starts in 2012.  His 2011 season was very successful, pitching 216 innings while going 12-10 with a 1.28 WHIP and a 3.21 ERA.

Red Sox starters in 2012 had a 5.19 ERA and only averaged 5.7 innings per start.  Basically anyone with a pulse could help out.  Masterson has electric stuff, as he is able to hit 97 and throws a plus sinker with heavy sink.  The opportunity to work with John Farrell again should also be a big help.

What the Red Sox Would Be Trading Away

Well this trade sounds pretty good so far, right?  Cleveland Indians President Mark Shapiro may be from Cambridge, Mass., but he still works for the Indians.  Ben Cherington won’t be able to fleece him for these players.  Shapiro is going to want pitching prospects and an MLB-ready player or two.

On the Red Sox side of things this trade needs to happen without giving up Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, and Jackie Bradley.

Here are the players I came up with:

Rubby De La Rosa – 23-year-old right-handed pitcher who can hit 100 mph with his fastball…projects to be a closer/late inning reliever…should be able to help a MLB team in 2013

Jose Iglesias – 22-year-old defensive whiz of a shortstop…major league ready in the field but has yet to prove he can hit…projects to be a starting MLB shortstop in 2013

Bryce Brentz – 23-year-old right fielder…bats right-handed…has shown power throughout the minors and projects to start the season at AAA

Brandon Workman – 24-year-old right handed starting pitcher…great control and can eat up innings…projects to start season at AAA….could become a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in MLB

**According to multiple websites (Fangraphs, SoxProspects, Baseball America, etc…) these prospects have been ranked between 5th and 12th in the Red Sox organization**

Why It Works For Both Teams

The Red Sox are in need of players at shortstop, corner outfield and starter pitching while the Indians are in a rebuild mode with newly hired manager Terry Francona.  The players the Indians are trading away have only 1-2 years until free agency and the possibility they re-sign with Cleveland is slim to none. The Red Sox, on the other hand, are looking for MLB-quality players, NOT on long-term contracts.

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