Indians Acquire Cubs’ Fukudome In Rare Deadline Buy

The Deal
After spending the past three summers dealing away veterans like C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez and Jake Westbrook, the Indians reversed course this season and traded for Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Cleveland received nearly $4 million in the deal, covering all but about $500,000 of Fukudome’s 2011 salary. (We erroneously had the cash transaction reversed earlier.) The Cubs acquired 25-year-old Triple-A righty reliever Carlton Smith and raw 21-year-old outfielder Abner Abreu, whose raw tools are impressive, but whose consistent application of those tools is not.

Fighting for their playoff lives, the Indians will welcome the on-base percentage boost Fukudome gives them at the top of their lineup—especially with Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo on the shelf with injuries. The lefty-hitting Fukudome owns a career .374 OBP versus righthanded pitchers, while his .339 mark against lefties is solid when you consider the typical left-on-left OBP split, which is .299 this season in the major leagues. The 52-50 Indians sit two games behind the Tigers in the American League Central at the time of the trade.

Cubs Acquire
Carlton Smith, rhp

Age: 25.

Born: Jan. 23, 1986 in Plainfield, N.J.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Bats: L. Throws: R.

School: Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) JC.

Career Transactions: Selected by Indians in 21st round of 2004 draft; signed May 28, 2005.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Columbus (IL) AAA 2 3 4.50 34 0 2 46 45 25 23 4 20 46 1.41

The Indians have a bullpen in Cleveland full of young, cheap, effective arms. Cleveland has even more on the way sitting in the Triple-A Columbus bullpen, including Nick Hagadone, Zach Putnam and Josh Judy. Smith isn’t quite as good a prospect as any of those three, though he’ll run his fastball in around the low-90s and has a solid slider. At 25, there’s not much projection left here, though he’ll have to sharpen his command to be a usable middle-relief option at the next level.

Abner Abreu, rf

Age: 21. Position: RF (64 G), CF (24 G).

Born: Oct. 24, 1989 in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 187. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Indians, Oct. 18, 2006.

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Kinston (CAR) HiA .244 91 336 42 82 16 5 12 35 22 102 19 .294 .429

The Indians did well to acquire Fukudome without giving up a player who was likely to help their big league club in the future. Abreu is a corner outfielder with good bat speed who can whip the barrel through the zone and hit the ball a long way with natural raw power when he does
make contact. That usually requires his bat running into a mistake, though, as his pitch recognition and feel for hitting are limited. He’s a
strikeout-heavy hitter who struggles against anything offspeed and doesn’t get on base much. He hit well in July for Kinston—batting .352/.405/.831 (25-for-71) with eight homers, four doubles and three triples—but that’s more likely a three-week hot stretch than any radical improvement.

Indians Acquire
Kosuke Fukudome, rf

Age: 34. Bats: L. Remaining Commitment: Approximately $4.5 million, of which Cubs pay $4 million ($13.5 million salary for 2011; eligible for free agency after the season).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Chicago (NL) 2011 .273 87 293 33 80 15 2 3 13 46 57 2 .374 .369
3-Year Totals .263 355 1127 155 296 72 8 27 110 200 230 15 .373 .413

<< Trade Central 2011