Twins Upgrade At Shortstop With Orlando Cabrera

The Twins attempted to upgrade their soft offensive production from their middle infielders by trading for Athletics veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera. To upgrade at this position of weakness, the Twins sent 2008 second-rounder Tyler Ladendorf, a shortstop, to Oakland.

Headed by Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, the Twins’ shortstops had combined to bat an abysmal .243/.304/.334 on the season with below-average defense.

The Young
Ladendorf was selected by the Yankees in 2006 out of an Illinois high school and by the Giants out of junior college in 2007 (both times in the 34th round), but he opted to stay at school each time. His stock rose considerably in 2008 and he became one of the nation’s top junior college players when he batted .542 with 16 home runs for Howard (Texas) JC. The Twins selected him in the second round last year and signed him quickly for $673,000.

The toolsy Ladendorf, 21, has been a disappointment thus far in his pro career. The righthanded batter was hitting 233/.292/.267 in his first 60 at-bats for low Class A Beloit, having spent most of the season in extended spring training and then tearing up the Appalachian League for 15 games. Ladendorf hit .410 with five home runs for Rookie-level Elizabethton. A 6-foot, 210-pound athlete with plus speed and some power potential, Ladendorft has upside, but he needs to start playing up to his tools given his age and draft status.

The market for Cabrera, 34, never materialized last winter, not with
Type A free agent compensation status hanging over his head. Oakland
signed him in early March to a one-year, $4 million deal, believing
that its offseason acquisitions would spell contention. But Cabrera
struggled during the first half, though he had begun to heat up in
July, batting .377/.400/.509 to improve his seasonal averages to a more
Cabrera-like .280/.317/.366.

The Twins address a glaring need at shortstop with a proven veteran in Cabrera. Minnesota also received cash from Oakland to help cover the remaining $1.75 million on Cabrera’s contract (including the $250,000 bonus he receives for being traded). Cabrera has a clause in his contract that would have prevented the A’s from offering him arbitration, thus precluding the club from receiving free agent compensation.