Analyzing What the Chicago Cubs Got from Indians for Kosuke Fukudome

Tom LeshContributor IIIJuly 28, 2011

PITTSBURGH - JULY 09:  Kosuke Fukudome #1 of the Chicago Cubs hits an RBI single in the second inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on July 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images is reporting that Kosuke Fukudome has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for minor league "prospects" Abner Abreu, a high-A ball outfielder, and Carlton Smith, a AAA relief pitcher.  The Cubs have agreed to pay all but a fraction of Fukudome's remaining salary for 2011.

It's always hard to evaluate trades like this, but on the surface, even assuming the Cubs were likely to let their right fielder and leadoff man go his way after the season, this looks like a bad deal for the Cubs and a deal that has become something of the norm for GM Jim Hendry over the last two seasons. Over that span, he has dealt reasonably useful players such as Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, and Derrek Lee for essentially nothing.

Smith, the pitcher, was a fairly dominant reliever at the AA level, but has not progressed at AAA.  In fact, he has been awful.  Unless the Cubs know something the Indians do not, he looks like the sort of pitcher the Cubs farm system is full of right now: mid-twenties hurlers with maybe one good pitch, poor control, and no future.

Abreu was once a well-regarded prospect, and maybe he still is.  Supposedly a tall, reedy player who reminds scouts of a young Alfonso Soriano, he seems to have the stats to match.  This year in high-A ball, he has struck out 102 times in fewer than 400 at-bats and sports a .294 on base percentage.  Clearly, at this stage of his career, Abreu fits the Cubs' image of a perfect player: right-handed, no plate discipline, etc. He has it all.

So, my first take: the Cubs agree to pay the Indians to play Kosuke Fukudome every day and potentially remain in contention in the AL Central.  In return, the Cubs get a very rough prospect who is many years away from the Majors and a useless relief pitcher who can fill out the Iowa roster for a season or two.