Kousuke Fukudome Trade: Indians Have MInor Upgrade but Still Search for OF Help
According to multiple reports—including one by Buster Olney—the Cleveland Indians will acquire Kouske Fukudome from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for two prospects and a Cubs' payment of more than half of the $4.7 million left on his contract.However, this move would have little impact on the Indians' lineup.
So far this season Fukudome has three home runs and a slash of .273/.374/.369 in 345 plate appearances. Fukudome's best asset is his impressive walk rate—13.3 percent—but his power has drastically declined over the last year, with his ISO falling from .176 to .096. His HR/FB ratio has also dropped from 12.3 to 4.9 percent this season.
It's hard to believe that he will sustain a .330 BABIP and his current .273 batting average. His 17.9 percent line drive rate, 52.6 percent ground ball rate and .307 career BABIP indicate that his batting average will drop.
Fukudome's range in the outfield has also diminished. He does possess an above average arm and he will catch everything that is hit to him, but his UZR dropped from 0.2 in 2009 to -5.6 in 2010, giving him a career low UZR of -7.6. All in all, he has a WAR of 0.2 this season and that is an upgrade over the performances Austin Kearns and Travis Buck, both of whom were rated worse than the average replacement player.
The Indians will need to acquire more than Fukudome. SI's Jon Heyman reports that the organization has expressed interest in Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick might be one of the more coveted outfielders at the deadline, but the Phillies and the Braves will be competing for any type of right-handed outfield bat.
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