As we all know, veteran Met shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is not happy playing second base, or any other position other than his traditional shortstop spot. Since the Mets have been playing him at second, he has requested a trade to a team that will play him at short, and he wants the team he is traded to to be a contender as well.
In the National League, there are only six teams that are legitimate contenders at this point. In the West, the winner will come from either the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers or the Rockies, with both of the teams that fall short likely being the wild card teams. The Nationals pretty much have the East locked up, and the Cubs and Brewers are scrapping for the Central. None of these teams seems to need a new shortstop, especially one who has made 11 errors in 44 games at short, as Cabrera has.
In the American League, a lot more teams could be considered contenders. Oakland, Chicago and Detroit are probably too far behind, but the remaining twelve teams still have realistic post-season chances. And there is one team that could desperately use a shortstop.
That team would be the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore’s shortstop for most of the season has been 34 year old J. J. Hardy, who unfortunately fractured his wrist earlier this month and is on the DL, perhaps into August. Hardy did not exactly set the world on fire with his bat when he was healthy with a slash line of .211/.248/.308 this season.
To replace Hardy, the Orioles have used two different shortstops. Paul Janish, a 34 year old journeyman, has posted a ghastly .143/.143/.143 slash line in a limited sample of 14 at bats.
The other option Baltimore has used to replace Hardy is our old friend, Ruben Tejada. The ex-Met is having a bad year even by his standards, with a .182/.250/.242 slash line in 33 at bats.
Cabrera’s slash line of .263/.343/.405 looks pretty good in comparison to what the Orioles have received so far from the shortstop slot, and as a bonus he is a switch-hitter. Defensively, he not only has had more than his share of errors but also has very limited range. One strategy for the Orioles, should they obtain Cabrera, would be to start him, then in close games where they are ahead use Tejada as a late inning defensive replacement.
It looks like the Oriole farm system is not particularly well stocked, and Cabrera is not going to fetch an elite prospect at this stage of his career. But if the Orioles have a decent prospect with upside potential, especially one who could play third base, a deal just might make sense for both teams.