It was a move that I called back in my article for ESPN, writing: “it would be prudent to remind teams that Cabrera, who’s signed for a reasonable $10 million through the end of 2014, has spent more than 1300 innings at second base through his career.”
Well, the Indians did just that on Thursday afternoon, sending the two-time All-Star shortstop to the Nationals, a second base-needy team, for Class AAA shortstop Zach Walters. The Tribe will also pick up the remainder of Cabrera’s salary for the season.
For the Nationals, the move should help fill one of the club’s bigger voids. Incumbent Danny Espinosa is hitting .217/.283/.347 this season and just .195/.251/.320 since the start of 2013. And while Cabrera’s offensive game has stagnated since his back-to-back All-Star appearances two years ago, he’s a dramatic upgrade.
The switch-hitting middle infielder has hovered around the league average offensive production and was adequate in at the keystone, though that was years ago, but he could be an added one- to two-win difference for Washington down the stretch.
As for the Indians newest player, 24-year-old shortstop/third baseman Zach Walters, well, he’s going to be useful role player.
Using a player classification system I’ve dubbed CAL, or Comparison And Likeness, which you can read more about at Beyond the Box Score, Walters’ top comps are a little underwhelming:
Basically, it’s a list of utility guys. Valaika has had a few cups of coffee in the bigs. Bianchi’s a career .216/.251/.283 hitter. Beckham, the former #1 overall pick, hasn’t panned out. And Cedeno has continued to get big league action despite owning a .245/.289/.353 career line.
The big difference for Walters, though, is his power, which is why his scores varied some in the upper levels. At best, he becomes a lite version of Ben Zobrist, but that’s definitely a long shot. His main flaw , not surprisingly, is his plate discipline, or lack thereof.