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Asdrubal Cabrera: Should the Indians Offer a Long-Term Contract?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 15: Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Cleveland Indians hits a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning on May 15, 2012 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Evan VogelContributor IIIMay 15, 2012

When people look back at trades that worked out for the Indians, it makes it easier to forget about those that didn't. 

Sure, the Indians haven't had much success with Matt LaPorta after dealing CC Sabathia to Milwaukee, but how about that Eduardo Perez for Asdrubal Cabrera deal?  That was "winning" before Charlie Sheen dropped the catchphrase. 

Cabrera is an excellent shortstop.  He had a monstrous breakout season in 2011, making his first All-Star team and winning his first Silver Slugger by hitting .273/.332/.460 with 25 home runs, 32 doubles, three triples, 92 RBI and 17 steals. 

Some wondered how he would fare in 2012, especially after a .244/.310/.419 line in the second half of 2011, but he is doing well so far this season.  Cabrera has posted a .316/.414/.500 line, with three home runs, 12 doubles, 13 RBI and two steals. Most importantly, he has a 9:17 K:BB, after posting a 119:44 K:BB in 2011.

Cabrera has truly matured into an excellent hitter at a position that increases his value significantly; however, it doesn't stop there.  Cabrera's fielding percentage was higher than the league average last season (.976 to .972) and in 2012 his range factor at shortstop has increased dramatically, up to 5.10 from 3.99 in 2011, while the 2012 league average is 4.93. 

Cabrera has become one of the top players at his position, so what is he worth now?

Cabrera will make $4.55 million this year, $6.5 million in 2013 and $10 million in 2014.  He'll turn 29 years old prior to hitting free agency after the 2014 season, so he'll have several solid seasons left, but is he worth the investment for the Indians?

Cabrera is a shortstop and the Indians top prospect is a shortstop, Francisco Lindor.  If you think you're moving Cabrera to second base, then what do you do with Jason Kipnis?  Is Cabrera a better third baseman than what Lonnie Chisenhall could become?  Where could Cabrera play and is he worth signing to a long-term deal? 

Consider that Troy Tulowitzki is the measuring tool for shortstops.  He signed through 2020, with a team option for 2021, basically signing a 13-year, $159 million deal.  Jose Reyes just signed a six-year, $106 million deal this winter with the Miami Marlins, but he hasn't stayed on the field consistently in his career, and even in his best seasons, he wasn't putting up numbers like Cabrera did in 2011, but they are different types of players.

Is Cabrera a glorified Jhonny Peralta, a late-blooming talent, or is he taking the steps towards super-stardom?  If the Tribe is going to lock him up, how much is he worth?  If you're a fan, do you think they should keep him as the face of the franchise, or hope that Lindor and the other youngsters work out? 

He seems to be worth the investment, but can the Indians afford to pay between $15 million and $20 million per season if Cabrera keeps hitting like he has for the last season and a half?

Note: All statistics and monetary information courtesy of www.baseballreference.com

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