The Mets are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline this year, according to numerous reports. Most of the speculation has involved moving one of the Mets’ starting pitchers, but there is a position player who could be attractive to a contender.
That position player is second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, one of the few Mets showing life at the plate this year. Through Sunday Cabrera has amassed a slashline of .280/.328/.479. He’s getting hits, and he’s got some pop as well, he is on pace to hit close to 30 home runs this year. The 32 year-old lacks the range on defense that he had when younger, but he is still a sure-handed fielder.
Most teams in contention are pretty well set at second base, but there is one contender that is both hungry for postseason success and in need of an upgrade at second. That team would be the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are pretty secure in their spot atop the AL Central, but their goal is to break the World Series drought extending back to 1948, when the teams’ stars included Bob Feller and Larry Doby.
Jason Kipnis has mostly been manning second base for the Indians this year, and his offensive production has nose-dived. Let’s put it this way: Todd Frazier, Michael Conforto and Kevin Plawecki all have higher batting averages this year than Kipnis does. His slash line is .216/.302/.341 in 81 games. Although he is probably a little better defender than Cabrera, he is really an average at best fielder at second with a lifetime UZR of -1.7.
Cabrera was an Indian from 2006-2013, and made two all-star teams during that span. So he has a history with the team, and he plays a position that is one of need for Cleveland. He has an $8.5 million contract, but the Indians would only be responsible for less than half of that, with the Mets having already paid over half the salary. Cabrera will be a free agent after the season, so any trade of him would be of the rental type.
The Indians would not be likely to offer an elite prospect for Cabrera, but a good prospect would be a fair deal for both teams. The Indians went to the World Series in 2016 and had a deep playoff run last year, but their window to win it all might start to close next year. Relief pitcher Andrew Miller and outfielder Michael Brantley will be free agents after the season.
Trading Cabrera would also give more players in the Mets’ organization opportunities to make their case for a starting berth. Jeff McNeil is a second baseman who has been pounding the ball in AAA this year. T. J. Rivera is rehabbing in the minors after elbow surgery, and Gavin Cecchini is recovering from a foot injury. All three are capable of playing second base.
A trade sending Cabrera to the Indians would seem to make sense for both teams, short-term benefits for Cleveland, and hopefully longer-term benefits for the Mets.