The free agent shortstop market is especially weak this off-season, which is why there is a trade market shaping up for established veterans like Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera and Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta. With a handful of clubs in the mix for an upgrade, the time might never be better to move a shortstop via trade.
The Indians don’t figure to contend and Cabrera is coming off a couple of excellent seasons at the plate. St. Louis and Boston has both shown interest in obtaining Cabrera, who will draw a healthy return from either club.
For those clubs who think the asking price on Cabrera is too high, Detroit offers a cheaper alternative in Peralta, who was displaced by Cabrera as the Tribe shortstop a few years back. Peralta is under contract for only one more year at an affordable $6 million and the Tigers won’t be asking for the moon in return. The one caveat is that Detroit won’t make such a move without a clear alternative at the position.
One of the few shortstops on the free agent market is former D-back Stephen Drew. Drew has struggled to come back to his pre-injury form at the plate, posting a .223/.309/.348 line in 79 games last season, split between Arizona and Oakland. In the six seasons prior to his 2011 broken ankle, Drew posted a .773 OPS for his career. There is no question he can hit when healthy and despite taking nearly a full year to get back onto the field, Drew’s legs weren’t under him for much of 2012.
According to John Heyman, Drew has drawn interest from teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers. New York makes little sense unless Drew sees himself as a utility player. Boston could offer a job as a one season place-holder until Jose Iglasias is more mature. The Tigers, on the other hand, have no viable shortstops coming through their minor league system for quite a while and at age 29, Drew could conceivably hold down the position in Motown for several years to come.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden indicated on twitter that the Tigers are in pursuit of Drew and would sign him with the intention of then trading Peralta away, either to Arizona, as we discussed earlier, or to Boston, where Peralta’s expiring contract would make sense with Iglasias’ arrival.
Peralta has proven over the past two seasons that can still handle the shortstop position defensively, though his range is limited. Detroit would like to add someone who covers more ground to play next to Miguel Cabrera. While offensive concerns wouldn’t be paramount in this equation, Drew’s left handed bat does have pop. The Tigers would be thrilled to exchange Peralta for Drew.