The Chicago Cubs have traded Kosuke Fukudome and $3.9 million (part of what’s left of the $13.5 million he was owed this season) to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Minor League outfielder Abner Abreu and reliever Carlton Smith.
Fukudome will most likely be a Type B free agent at season’s end, but the Indians are more likely to win the World Series than to even think about offering him arbitration, considering how much money he made this year. It’s not that he’s necessarily a bad hitter, it’s just that Fukudome never really lived up to the expectations put on him when he was first signed to a four year $48 million deal before playing a single Major League Baseball game. Thank you, Jim Hendry.
Despite a lack of extra base hits, it’s been a typical year for Fukudome, getting on base in more than 37% of his plate appearances, with an above average walk rate, and a below average strikeout rate. His defense has been in decline in each of the last four seasons, which makes sense considering he’s now 34 years old. But with Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo currently on the Disabled List, expect to see Fukudome positioned in right field for at least the beginning of his time in Cleveland.
I don’t have a lot of faith in the Indians’ chances this year in the AL Central. Currently two games back of the Detroit Tigers, I think Cleveland got off to a lucky start and have been coasting on it ever since. However, this move costs the Indians so little that it’s pretty hard to get up in arms over basically acquiring a really good on base guy for next to nothing.
Baseball America ranked Abreu as the 23rd best Indians prospect coming into the season. However, in his second stint at High A, he can’t even manage to get on base 30% of the time. Smith, meanwhile, is a 25 year old right handed pitcher who has shown an increased ability to strike batters out this season. Unfortunately, he’s also shown an increased ability in allowing earned runs. His numbers at Triple A this year show a slight improvement over last season, but not enough to make Cubs fans overly excited.
As I said before, the Indians are two games back, most of Fukudome’s salary is being paid by the Cubs, and they give up two prospects that don’t appear to be on their way to the big leagues anytime soon. Fukudome provides the Cubs with a good bat while they await the return of two of their outfielders from the Disabled List. So, in conclusion: why not?
Travis Buck was designated for assignment to make room for Fukudome on the 40 man roster.