M’s Sacrifice Cabrera For Perez

The Indians projected as one of the American League’s top teams entering the season, while the Mariners looked like an also-ran. But with Cleveland scuffling and Seattle contending in a weaker-than-expected AL West, the teams swung a Friday trade that made sense for both sides. The Mariners got a righthanded bat for the present in Eduardo Perez, while the Indians received an infield prospect for the future in Asdrubal Cabrera.

Perez, 36, does one thing well: hit lefthanders. The son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez is hitting .330/.355/.693 with eight homers in 88 at-bats against southpaws this year, and has tagged them to the tune of .270/.366/.522 during his career. He doesn’t fare nearly as well against righties, with an OPS of .448 in 2006 and .665 in his career. Perez doesn’t run well or cover much ground defensively, though he has soft hands at first base and can fill in at the outfield corners. He’s making $1.75 million this year on a one-year free-agent contract. With the Indians out of the race, they didn’t need to spend that much on a platoon partner for Ben Broussard. Perez is a career .250/.327/.441 hitter with 78 homers and 283 RBIs in 711 major league games.

Cabrera, 20, is one of the better defenders in the minor leagues. Signed out of Venezuela in 2002, he has played shortstop at Triple-A Tacoma this year and also has starred at second base in the past. His range, arm, hands and instincts are all plus tools. He has struggled at the plate this year after being forced to jump from Class A year ago because of the backlog of infielders in the Mariners system. Cabrera has batted .236/.323/.360 with three homers, 22 RBIs and seven steals in 60 games. A switch-hitter, he carried career .286/.353/.422 numbers into 2006. While he’s a better hitter than he has shown this year, he doesn’t stand out in terms of on-base skills, power or basestealing ability, and he has just average bat speed. He could factor into Cleveland’s second-base mix next year if Ronnie Belliard departs as a free agent.

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