Tag: Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera Injury: Updates on Mets IF’s Knee and Return

New York Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera is set to miss around two weeks of action before returning to baseball activity due to a knee injury.

Continue for updates.

Cabrera Facing Tight Timetable For Opening Day

Friday, March 11

Marc Carig of Newsday passed along a statement from the club, which noted an MRI showed a strained patella tendon in Cabrera’s left knee. He’s returned to New York for a PRP injection and will then rest for a couple of weeks before trying to ramp up his spring training preparations again.  

Anthony DiComo of MLB.com provided comments from the shortstop after he left Thursday’s game early. He didn’t think it was something that would keep him out for an extended period.

“I felt something in my knee,” Cabrera said. “It’s sore right now … [but] I’m walking fine. I don’t think it’s anything serious.”

The 30-year-old veteran signed with the Mets back in December. He’s currently slated to serve as the team’s starting shortstop, but the injury timeline could make it difficult for him to get ready in time for Opening Day.

Even if there are no issues during the initial phase of recovery, a two-week absence would leave him with only about one week to get back up to speed. Though it’s possible he could make it work, everything would need to progress perfectly.

The Mets also want to make sure Cabrera is completely recovered before putting him into competitive games. He was just two for 12 with no extra-base hits during the early stages of spring training.

Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores will probably spend the rest of the preseason battling to fill the void should Cabrera miss the start of the regular season. They split time last season with Tejada getting on base more frequently (.338 to .295 in OBP), but Flores providing more pop (16 to three in HRs).

Cabrera should provide a more stabilizing presence once he returns to full strength. Exactly how long that’s going to take is a mystery at this stage.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Mets’ Boosting Infield Depth with Walker, Cabrera Makes Up for Zobrist Whiff

After listening to the buzz over the last few weeks, many of us expected Ben Zobrist to be a New York Met right now. Instead, he’s a Chicago Cub. C’est la hot stove.

But while the Mets would certainly love to have Zobrist on their side, settling for the next-best thing is never a bad idea.

In this case, that’s depth on the infield. And not just any depth. We’re talking about the kind of good, solid depth that the Mets arranged with a pair of transactions Wednesday, the third day of Major League Baseball’s winter meetings.

The first was a trade for veteran second baseman Neil Walker, whom the Mets acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for left-handed starter Jon Niese:

“[Walker is] one of those guys that gets big hits,” manager Terry Collins said of the deal, via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. “He’s a good defender. I think he’s an outstanding player. The Pittsburgh Pirates, he helped them win a lot of games. So I think this is a good trade for us.”

Not content to stop there, the Mets made another move Wednesday when they signed free-agent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year contract. As reported by Jim Duquette of MLB.com, he’ll earn $18.5 million.

Now, let’s be upfront about this: Neither of these guys is Zobrist.

Walker is a solid second baseman, and Cabrera is a solid shortstop. The ever-versatile Zobrist can be either of those things in a pinch. Also, he may or may not be one of the elite position players of the last seven seasons. Thus speaks wins above replacement, which is obviously a perfect stat.

But while neither Walker nor Cabrera is Zobrist, the Mets are definitely better than they were before they added the two of them. And looking ahead, it’s possible one Walker plus one Cabrera will serve the Mets better than one Zobrist could have.

Here’s a fact: Walker is a solid second baseman mainly because he’s a pretty good hitter.

The 30-year-old switch-hitter is coming off a year in which he hit .269 with a .756 OPS, which is in line with his career norms of .272 and .769. His power is his best asset. So much so that, as DiComo noted, Walker is basically the same thing as Robinson Cano:

Tidbits aside, the point is that Walker is clearly an above-average hitter. All those numbers say so. So does his 113 career OPS+, which puts a finer point on the notion.

That’s good! But we can make it look even better with context.

Walker’s career OPS+ is a couple of ticks higher than the 110 career OPS+ belonging to Daniel Murphy, whom Walker is replacing at second base. It’s also only a few ticks short of Zobrist’s career 117 OPS+. That’s not so bad, and it helps to note that Walker’s projected 2016 salary (per MLB Trade Rumors) of $10.7 million is quite a bit less than the $56 million the Cubs signed Zobrist for.

Or, in so many words: Walker is something of a middle ground between Murphy and Zobrist on offense, and a reasonably priced one at that.

Cabrera, who is also a 30-year-old switch-hitter, is not as good of a hitter as Walker. But he’s generally pretty good. His .265 average and .744 OPS from 2015 are almost exactly in line with his career rates, and overall his 104 career OPS+ qualifies him as a slightly above-average hitter.

What makes that appealing is that above-average offense is hard to come by at shortstop these days.

The Mets know all about it, as their shortstop production has been middle-of-the-road ever since Jose Reyes left town four years ago. Cabrera obviously isn’t Carlos Correa or anything, but he should provide more offense than the Mets likely would have gotten from Ruben Tejada and/or Wilmer Flores.

Of course, there is a downside to the additions of Walker and Cabrera. Sadly, they’re not as good at catching the ball as they are at hitting it.

This is especially true of Cabrera. As August Fagerstrom of FanGraphs noted, “Over the last three seasons, Cabrera has been baseball’s worst defensive shortstop by DRS (minus-30), baseball’s worst defensive shortstop by UZR (minus-25) and second-worst defensive shortstop by FRAA (minus-18).”

Walker is better on defense, but it’s not by much. Collins may see him as a quality defender, but the metrics have made it clear they do not.

However, at least the Mets know they can survive with poor defense at shortstop and second base. One metric says they got by with the league’s worst defense at shortstop in 2015, and nobody ever accused Murphy of being a wizard with the glove at second base. The Mets may not be upgrading their defense, but they’re not downgrading it either.

Besides which, let’s remember the Mets can afford to downplay defense.

Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and the rest of their overpowering pitchers made them one of the league’s top 10 strikeout teams in 2015. A full season of Steven Matz and the return of Zack Wheeler ought to make them even more overpowering in 2016. That will mean fewer balls for New York’s defense to field.

In all, the Mets figure to improve from where they were in 2015 with the Walker and Cabrera additions. Things should be better on the offensive side and par for the course on the defensive side.

Could they have improved even more by adding Zobrist? Maybe. It depends on what he has left in the tank, defensively, which seems to be a good question. He’s still versatile, but he didn’t rate so well in 2015. A midseason knee surgery didn’t help him there, but his age likely didn’t either. With his 35th birthday approaching, Zobrist is approaching baseball geezer territory. His best defense may be behind him.

If not, there’s at least one thing we know the Mets gained more of by adding Walker and Cabrera instead of Zobrist: infield depth. The Mets have gone from having only some of it to now having plenty of it.

Walker is likely entrenched at second base, and Cabrera will play mostly short. But Cabrera will also play second and, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, third base as well. Tejada and/or Flores are also freed up to move around the infield now. And given that the Mets don’t know how durable the aging David Wright can be, they’re likely going to be glad for the extra depth.

If the Mets had their druthers, they would have signed Zobrist. Based on the reports, they did everything short of serenading him with a whimsical composition to convince him to come to Queens.

But give the Mets credit. They responded quickly to missing out on Zobrist, and they responded well. They’re now going to enjoy better offense at two positions rather than at just one position, and they also have more depth that they’re probably going to need.

Two moves isn’t always better than one move. But as this case goes to show, two moves can at least be just as good as one move.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

Follow zachrymer on Twitter 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Asdrubal Cabrera Injury: Updates on Rays Shortstop’s Hamstring and Return

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera exited Saturday’s game against the Houston Astros with a strained right hamstring.

Continue for updates.

Cabrera Suffers Hamstring Strain vs. Astros

Saturday, July 11

The Rays’ official Twitter account reported the news of Cabrera’s injury. Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times added that Cabrera was running for home when he hurt himself, still managing to score on an RBI single by Rene Rivera. The two-time All-Star was replaced by Jake Elmore at shortstop.

Having missed just four of 89 prior games this season, Cabrera figures to be back in action soon enough. It’s rather fortuitous for the 29-year-old that the All-Star break begins after Sunday’s games.

WTSP-TV 10 News’ Dave Wirth nevertheless lamented the Rays’ latest injury woes:

Although Cabrera’s hitting has improved of late and his fielding is tremendous, with just two errors, he’s hitting just .223 for the season. Elmore was only a .214 hitter entering the game, so Tampa Bay could use Cabrera’s wakening bat to help a struggling offense that ranked 25th in MLB in runs scored entering Saturday.

A tough recent stretch has seen the Rays lose 12 of their last 14 games. They need all the help they can get and for Cabrera to be healthy to stay in a tight American League East race following the All-Star break.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Asdrubal Cabrera-Rays Deal Positions Ben Zobrist to Become Hot Trade Target

The Ben Zobrist bidding got a lot hotter Tuesday, and finding teams not interested in trading for the versatile veteran is a lot easier than determining who wants him. 

As first reported by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and confirmed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Tampa Bay Rays inked second baseman/shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year deal on Tuesday. The signing is viewed as a way for the Rays to replace Zobrist since it seems more a matter of when rather than if the team will move him.

The Rays will obviously not be selling Zobrist at his highest value, but one thing is certain: His stock will not get any higher than it is now.

Zobrist will turn 34 in May and can become a free agent after next season, so it’s almost stunning the Rays didn’t trade him a couple years ago. Still, the interest in him on the trade market is ridiculously high because he is about as productive a position player as there is.

“Trades are risky by nature,” Rays general manager Matt Silverman told Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune nearly two weeks ago. “The easiest thing to do is stand pat, and that can be just as risky if not more so. We’re looking to be proactive and take steps to improve our club, and that’s what we’ve been doing all offseason.”

Actually, what the Rays have been doing is slicing payroll and preparing for the future, which even included trading a 24-year-old, controllable Wil Myers. Cabrera’s signing, while doing nothing to make the roster younger (he is 29), is a stopgap in preparation for a Zobrist trade. Zobrist would be the first player in franchise history to start a 10th consecutive season with the Rays if he made it to Opening Day.

It is true Zobrist‘s name has not been thrown about the way Matt Kemp’s was or the way Cole Hamels’ has, but teams have been calling the Rays about Zobrist since early November. Now that clubs know it’s a virtual lock that the Rays will move him—it is assumed Cabrera will play second base, the spot Zobrist mostly occupied over the last two seasons—he will become the most sought-after player on the trade market in the short term.

Zobrist is probably the most underrated, undervalued player in baseball. He will make $7.5 million next season, and since 2011, he has a 23.2 WAR by FanGraphs‘ calculations. That is the fourth-highest total in the American League behind Mike Trout (29.1), Miguel Cabrera (26.5) and Robinson Cano (24.3). It’s incredible to think that is the kind of company Zobrist keeps relative to his stature.

Zobrist can also play every position on the diamond except the battery, and he still has a positive defensive WAR and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) aggregate. His best defensive position by the DRS metric in 2014 was left field, and that is why the San Francisco Giants seem like quite the logical landing spot.

The Giants lost their primary left fielder when Mike Morse signed with the Miami Marlins, and they clearly are not comfortable with Gregor Blanco platooning with someone else. The Giants would prefer an everyday left fielder, and Zobrist fits that model.

Not only that, but there are still a lot of questions about what incumbent second baseman Joe Panik can do over a season of 600 plate appearances. He hit .305/.343/.368 in 2014, but that came in just 287 plate appearances, and he was still just a 104 On-Base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+) player. Zobrist would not only cover the Giants in left field, he can also be about as good an insurance policy at second base as there is available.

Zobrist could also spell new third baseman Casey McGehee from time to time although that can be said about almost every position when it comes to Zobrist.

In a Giants offseason filled with plenty of courting but not payoff, Zobrist could be the deal to ease the disappointment.

However, there are a lot of sharks in Zobrist‘s waters. The Washington Nationals, who let Cabrera walk, need a second baseman. The Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs could use outfield help. The New York Yankees could use middle infield help, as could the Toronto Blue Jays.

The winning bid will have to be hefty. The Rays value Zobrist greatly—there’s a reason they’ve held onto him for so long—and they could probably live with starting the season with him in uniform with the expectation of making him a qualifying offer at the end of the season. Or they could even wait until the July non-waiver trade deadline to move him out.

Plus, the Los Angeles Angels set the price for a contract-year second baseman when they dealt Howie Kendrick to the Los Angeles Dodgers for highly rated pitching prospect Andrew Heaney.

The Rays had little reason to sign Cabrera unless they were inclined to trade Zobrist. Again, this is more than likely a matter of when than if, and it will come down to which buying team most values the most undervalued player in the majors.


Advanced statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.

Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Rumors: Trade and Free-Agent Buzz Surrounding Top Players Left on Market

With less than two months until teams report to spring training, it’s crunch time for MLB general managers looking to put the finishing touches on their offseason masterpieces.

Several teams are probably already done making major moves. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres have been extraordinarily busy, and their roster overhauls will be on display as soon as camp gets underway.

Other teams have been strangely quiet thus far, so it’ll be interesting to see if they make moves now that other teams are out of the running for the remaining available players.

Three of the top players left on the free-agent and trade markets have made headlines recently. Get up to speed on their statuses below.


Asdrubal Cabrera

Widely considered the top bat available in free agency as things stand today, Asdrubal Cabrera has no shortage of suitors. Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi lists four potential destinations for the middle infielder, though there are presumably others in the hunt as well:

Of the teams Morosi lists, the Toronto Blue Jays appear to be the best fit. After dealing Brett Lawrie this offseason, the team lacks quality depth at second base. Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis and Steve Tolleson are among those on the roster who could see time there, but adding Cabrera would effectively make them expendable.

Scott Ferguson of TSN 1050 writes that Cabrera may not be the future of the position, but he’s worth bringing in now: “Ryan Goins may one day learn to hit, and John Berti who’s been playing in the Arizona Fall League may be an option down the road, but right now, the Jays need a veteran like Asdrubal Cabrera.”

Adding Cabrera would also be an insurance policy for Jose Reyes at short should he get injured yet again. Cabrera could simply slide over to his right and allow one of the aforementioned players to see time at second.

This is an easy-to-see upgrade for Toronto. Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 split between the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals in 2014. That’s now two consecutive subpar seasons from the 29-year-old, but there’s no reason why the Blue Jays can’t offer him a one-year deal and see if he can re-establish himself north of the border.

There wouldn’t be all that much pressure on Cabrera to produce offensively in a lineup packed with the likes of Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, so this is an ideal scenario for all parties involved.


Marlon Byrd

Jimmy Rollins and Antonio Bastardo have already fallen victim to the rebuild that the Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of, and the likes of Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard are on the chopping block as well.

Marlon Byrd, a surprisingly valuable player (for the most part) since 2009, is also a candidate for relocation. Morosi tweeted that he was actually almost shipped off to Cincinnati:

It’s unknown what the Phillies would have received in return, though moving Byrd is a positive by itself. He’s on borrowed time, enjoying arguably the best two seasons of his career (2013 and 2014) in his mid-30s. Moving him now would prevent the Phillies from having to deal with him when his value potentially lowers during the season.

This is a head-scratcher for the Reds. The outfield is thin, with Skip Schumaker currently in line for regular playing time in left field, but Cincy is in somewhat of a rebuild itself.

The Reds have dealt Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, floated around the idea of trading Jay Bruce and both Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto’s names have even popped up in rumors

Adding Byrd would not help the future of the team. The Reds would have to trade a prospect or two to get him, yet those prospects should remain in the team’s system as part of the plan a few years from now.

Also, Byrd is owed $8 million next season. The Reds need to cut payroll, writes Kevin Goheen of Fox Sports Ohio, so adding salary makes zero sense.

Byrd could very well be dealt this offseason, but it shouldn’t be to the Reds.


Max Scherzer

The pitching market is still tied to Max Scherzer, as the right-handed ace has yet to ink a new contract. That’s probably because he’s still asking for $200 million (h/t D.J. Short of Hardball Talk), a number no pitcher other than Clayton Kershaw has ever earned.

One team accustomed to spending large sums of money on pitchers is the New York Yankees. While they have been quiet in their pursuit (or non-pursuit) of Scherzer, Morosi believes that they’ll ultimately end up with the 30-year-old.

So if your question today is whether I believe the Yankees are pursuing Scherzer, the answer is an emphatic yes,” Morosi writes. “The New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium could have been renamed the ‘We Are Not Signing Max Scherzer Bowl,’ and I wouldn’t have been convinced.”

Morosi cites the team’s muffled pursuit of Mark Teixeira when he was a free agent prior to the 2009 season. Most believed the Yankees to be out on Teixeira until he surprised everyone and inked a lengthy, lucrative deal with the organization.

But why is this parallel relevant? Because both players had Scott Boras‘ name attached to them during free agency.

Boras is the best agent in the business when it comes to pinching every dollar out of prospective teams for his clients. The Yankees are one of the best at throwing money around, making Boras‘ eyes turn into dollar signs when his clients are interested in joining the Bombers.

It’s widely known that Boras always gives the Yankees a call. Morosi recalled a quote from John Henry in his report: “A half-dozen years later, it’s worth remembering what Red Sox owner John Henry told The Associated Press after Teixeira signed with his archrival: ‘There was no mention of the Yankees, but we felt all along that they were going to get the last call. That’s what you deal with in working with Scott.'”

A similar situation could very well happen with Scherzer.

The Yankees have yet to address their injury-prone starting rotation outside of young Nate Eovaldi, and you can rest assured that general manager Brian Cashman won’t stand pat. Something will happen.

How major that something will be is still undetermined.


Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @kennydejohn

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2014 MLB Free Agents: Predictions for Latest Rumors Surrounding Biggest Stars

Although the winter meetings allowed numerous MLB teams to cross some names off their holiday shopping lists, plenty of big gifts still await.  Even with superstars like Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval signing with new teams, the league has yet to see a resulting domino effect, and other top-tier players have yet to find new (or old) teams.

Many free agents are still up in the air.  Plenty of season-changing talent, especially among starting pitchers, still exists for title-hungry teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and others to sweep up.  

Even though the pace of signings has slowed to a crawl, that does not mean the rumor mill is not constantly spinning.  Using information derived from The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo in his invaluable “Sunday Notebook” series, let’s look at recent updates on some of the biggest available names and speculate where their ultimate destinations may be.


Giants and Sox in on Shields?

With Lester off the market, James Shields has established himself as one of the biggest names available, as the small-market Kansas City Royals are unlikely to retain the ace who spurred their surprising World Series run.  Cafardo suggests that a few big-market teams are still interested in Shields:

The final Shields numbers are expected to be close to the five years and $110 million remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, according to one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands. The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.

That would be well below the six-year, $155 million pact Lester inked with the Chicago Cubs, but one also commensurate with Shields’ level of performance.  Though Shields has eclipsed the 200-innings mark in a remarkable eight consecutive seasons, he has never checked in as more than a 4.5 WAR player, and his 2015 Steamer projection, via FanGraphs, projects him as a 3.0 WAR player.

Those numbers still make Shields a very valuable player, equivalent to Brandon McCarthy and Nathan Eovaldi last season.  But it spells more of a No. 3 starter rather than the ace that his contract demands would imply, and as Shields approaches his age-33 season, it is a given that the contract will sour in the end.

Of course, signing a big free-agent pitcher is about the present, not the albatross the contract will eventually become.  In that instance, the Giants look like a slightly better fit for Shields than the Red Sox, who already have innings-eaters but no top-of-the-rotation anchor.  San Francisco already has Madison Bumgarner, and when adding Shields to a rotation that includes Matt Cain, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson, the Giants would trot out an extremely durable and consistent group that will almost surely produce above-average numbers.


Scherzer Staying Put?

Whereas Shields is in demand on the open market, the picture is murkier on Scherzer.  His $200 million asking price has thinned out the market and created a holding pattern.  Given that Scherzer is a Scott Boras client, it’s not difficult to envision this process dragging out.

However, unlike with Lester or Shields, no team has established clear interest in the Detroit Tigers ace.  ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) recently pegged the Tigers as 2-to-1 favorites to retain Scherzer, and Cafardo’s sources have echoed that sentiment:

The more you ask baseball executives about where Scherzer will end up, the more the answers come back Detroit. The Tigers know and like Scherzer, and the feeling is they need him after trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox, and obtaining Alfredo Simon from the Reds and Shane Greene from the Yankees. The Tigers’ rotation is missing a significant pitcher (you can’t call Justin Verlander that anymore, and David Price may not re-sign). 

The Tigers have been unafraid to shell out huge long-term dollars to keep their own stars, as evidenced by the Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander deals.  Moreover, Detroit’s once-formidable rotation has collapsed amid Verlander’s decline, the trades of Doug Fister and Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez’s injury history.  Scherzer produced over 2.0 more WAR and pitched nearly 15 innings more than the second-best Tigers starter last year, effectively carrying a staggering Detroit pitching staff down the stretch.

Quite simply, the Tigers probably need Scherzer more than any other deep-pocketed contender, even the Yankees.  Until someone really gets serious about Scherzer, he’s Detroit’s free agent to lose.


Buzz on Asdrubal

Given the scarcity of well-rounded middle infielders, Asdrubal Cabrera would ostensibly be a very valuable commodity on the open market.  However, Cafardo reports that Cabrera has needed to market himself to teams, and the 29-year-old may end up taking a one-year deal:

There’s a lot of dialogue with teams, according to agent Alan Nero, but nothing has come together yet. Cabrera is willing to move to second base, which would be beneficial to him. There’s been speculation concerning the Yankees with Prado gone. Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere and reestablish himself.

It’s a puzzling development given that both Sports Illustrated and CBS ranked Cabrera among their 15 best free agents at the start of the offseason.  He’s unlikely to come close to ever repeating his 2011 power breakout, when he swatted 25 home runs and produced a career-high 3.6 WAR and 16.3 added runs on offense.  And Cabrera has also always had a negative glove, which will likely necessitate a move from of shortstop as he ages.

But he already possesses the versatility to handle second, as he demonstrated during his stint with the Washington Nationals last season, and his regular-season numbers make him an above-average bat.  The average slash line of major league shortstops last year was .251/.306/.363, almost exactly in line with Cabrera’s .251/.316/.397 career average.

Considering that playoff contenders were trotting out the likes of Jean Segura and Elvis Andrus last year, Cabrera seems like a nice replacement for most teams.  The Yankees or Phillies, both of whom lost franchise icons at shortstop this offseason, could represent future suitors for the ex-Cleveland Indian.


*All stats via Fangraphs.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Updated Chances for Washington Nationals to Sign Top 5 Remaining FA Targets

Most free-agency talk regarding the Washington Nationals this winter will start and end with their search for a second baseman. But MLB‘s offseason isn’t called the “Hot Stove” because of aging middle infielders moving teams. 

It’s true, Washington could probably trot out its roster as is and contend for its second consecutive division title. But, as The Washington Post‘s Thomas Boswell points out, a blockbuster signing is never out of the question with Nats general manager Mike Rizzo. 

Rizzo proved that to be true in 2011 with the acquisition of outfielder Jayson Werth and in 2012 when he brought in starter Gio Gonzalez, two players who have been instrumental in the Nationals’ recent success. 

This time around, it’s free-agent hurler Max Scherzer’s name that is punctuating the discussion of second base options like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew. 

Washington’s biggest waves in free agency should come once the likes of Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are either dealt or signed to extensions, but the Nationals are highly unlikely to remain quiet all offseason.

Therefore, here are the chances some of Washington’s most notable targets don the red, white and blue next season.

Begin Slideshow

1 Sleeper Free-Agent Target for the Yankees at Every Position of Need

After not making the playoffs for the second year in a row, it is clear the New York Yankees will have to make some moves this winter if they intend to compete in 2015.

It’s the Yankees, so you know that is exactly what their intentions are.

This is a talented free-agent class, headlined by players such as Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez. All of these guys are sure to cash in this offseason when the time comes for them to sign a new contract.

The race to sign these players and others will be a competition among countless teams. With needs at shortstop, third base and in the rotation, the Yankees may just have to get creative when it comes time to decide who it is they are going to bring in.

Begin Slideshow

Fantasy Baseball: Players You Should Consider Trading Before Midseason

For all of you forward-thinking fantasy players, you’re probably way ahead of me in coming up with a list of players who’ve given you great value in the first half, but won’t come close to maintaining production for the remainder of the season. You’ll spend the next few weeks looking for the best trade before their value begins to dip too much.

If you need help identifying this year’s version of Asdrubal Cabrera (.286 BA, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 20 2B, 34 BB in 1st half of 2012; .251 BA, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 15 2B, 18 BB in 2nd half of 2012), let me give you some suggestions.

Here are seven players you should consider trading before midseason. 

Begin Slideshow

Are the Indians Strong Enough to Tread Water Without All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera?

Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was in obvious pain after grounding out on Monday night. Jordan Bastian confirms that he’ll be sidelined at least 15 days with a strained right quad:

The Tribe fell to 30-27 following a 7-4 loss, but they’re still comfortably sitting in second place in the AL Central.

So can Cleveland tread water without its Venezuelan All-Star and stay above .500 and within sight of the Detroit Tigers?

The answer depends on how much time Cabrera misses.

That’s tricky to calculate because the severity of quad strains can vary. Mike Morse, for example, went down with the same thing on May 28. The Seattle Mariners have yet to make a roster move because they consider him day-to-day.

But this certainly won’t require surgery. Barring any setbacks, the Indians can expect him back in uniform by the end of the month.

In the meantime, there won’t be much of a drop-off at the shortstop position. Mike Aviles slides into the starting role. Though less flashy with the glove, he’s statistically superior to Cabrera in terms of UZR and Defensive Runs Saved, and it’s not particularly close.

Cabrera’s career at shortstop (4,798.0 innings): -4 DRS, -31.8 UZR.

Aviles‘ career at shortstop (2,406.1 innings): 27 DRS, 16.1 UZR.

*Career totals accurate entering Tuesday’s game, provided by Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.

The Indians will lose a tiny bit of power as the torch passes.

Cabrera owns a 116 OPS+ since 2011, whereas Aviles is only at 83 OPS+ in that span. Juan Diaz—who’s taking Cabrera’s spot on the active roster—produces much less than either of these guys. As of June 4, he has only five games of major league experience.

Pat McManamon of Fox Sports Ohio writes that Aviles has the right mindset to handle this sudden promotion.

The free-agent signings of Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher resulted in dramatic offensive improvement. The latter has been particularly consistent at the plate over the course of his career. Aside from Ryan Raburn (.293/.364/.525 in 110 PA), there isn’t any hitter on the Indians destined to regress.

Terry Francona’s pitching staff has struggled in 2013.

It ranks 24th in the majors in both ERA and FIP. Don’t expect significant variance in those areas. Cleveland is very much in the middle of the pack when it comes to luck-related measures like BABIP and strand rate.

The shoulder injury to closer Chris Perez comprises the bullpen depth. That said, Vinnie Pestano has the potential to be even better in the ninth inning.

Once the Indians complete their current series with the New York Yankees, their grueling road trip continues to Motown (June 7-9), followed by a series with the Texas Rangers (June 10-12). They would be fortunate to split those six contests.

The remainder of June, however, ought to be much more tolerable:

Cleveland Indians Schedule (June 14-30)
Opponent (Record) Home/Road Dates
Washington Nationals (28-29) Home  June 14-16  
Kansas City Royals (23-31) Home  June 17-19  
Minnesota Twins (25-29) Home  June 21-23  
Baltimore Orioles (32-25) Road  June 24-27  
Chicago White Sox (24-31) Road  June 28-30  

That matchup with the White Sox includes a doubleheader. Therefore, from June 4—the first day of the Cabrera-less era—through month’s end, Cleveland plays 25 games in 27 days. Fatigue will set in, particularly as temperatures rise.

The Tribe is just as likely to reel off a lengthy winning streak as they are to nosedive, but don’t count on either of those scenarios playing out. Provided that Cabrera returns to full strength prior to the All-Star break, his team should still be second best in the division and relevant in the AL Wild Card race.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress