After a tremendous of internet buzz was created last week surrounding rumors of a St. Louis Cardinals trade for Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, the trade front has suddenly grown quiet over the past few days. Here is a timeline of how the story developed, and where the two teams currently are, or at least where the public knows they are. The following analysis includes updates through November 12, 2012.
Why the Two Teams Fit
The most pressing position of need for the Cardinals in 2013 is shortstop. The Cardinals have Rafael Furcal signed through next season, and Furcal is more than adequate when healthy. “When healthy” is the difficult part of the equation when it comes to Furcal. Furcal has played 305 out of 486 games in the last three seasons, with extended periods of time on the disabled list in all three years. Furcal is recovering from an elbow injury suffered late last year, and the team is hoping he can recover without surgery, but there are certainly no guarantees. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the team no longer considers Furcal a 145 game option for next season.
On the Indians end, they are one of the few teams with a surplus of shortstops after they acquired Mike Avilies, the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox last season. Cabrerea is owed $16.5 million over the next two seasons, which has raised questions about whether the Indians are willing to keep that much salary at one position.
The Indians are also in need of starting pitching. Indians starters were the third worst in the Major Leagues last year with a 5.25 ERA. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are one of the few teams with a surplus of starting pitching with the emergence of Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and even more hot prospects still in the minors.
If there were a dating website to match up trading partners, the site would quickly setup the Indians and Cardinals on a date.
On November 1 Joe Strauss wrote that the Cardinals interest in Cabrerra is “real” if the Inidans are willing to trade him. Strauss said that he believed General Manager John Mozeliak was not counting on Furcal or Pete Kozma to fill the position next year. Strauss also wrote that if Cabrerra is traded “the Cardinals appear as logical a fit as anywhere.”
On November 6, according to The Plain Dealer, Cleveland General manager Chris Antonetti answered “yes” when asked whether Cabrera will be back with the Indians next year. Still, The Plain Dealer writer Terry Pluto believes the Indians are more open to a trade than Antonetti is letting on.
However, in a November 8 interview with MLBTR at the GM meetings Mozeliak said that the team is “very hesistant” to seek a long term answer in middle answer in middle infield. Mozeliak also said that if Furcal were injured the team might feel more pressed.
Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote on November 9 that the Indians are listening to trade offers and that both sides are “positioned and motivated to deal.” Gordon describes the many potential trade chips the Cardinals could part with in a deal, including Seth Blair, Matt Adams, and/or Matt Carpenter.
Since November 9, there has been no real news but a lot of speculation. The two teams could still be talking, or it is possible they reached an impasse and are now taking a break for talks. It is worth nothing that most rumored trades never happen. Indeed, many never even had a chance of happening. Only time will tell whether the same is true of the rumors about Cabrera and the Cardinals.