Time was right to deal Sabathia
GM Shapiro doesn't view trade as start of rebuilding project
CLEVELAND -- This time, the Indians' returns on their trade of their staff ace won't read, "Lee Stevens and prospects."This time, the baseball world is quite a bit more savvy in the understanding of the value of prospects for a mid-market team such as the Tribe. But make no mistake: General manager Mark Shapiro did not pull the trigger on the CC Sabathia trade expecting it to be as high of an impact deal as the 2002 trade that sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos.
"If we could get an outfielder," Shapiro said, "we wanted an impact-type outfielder, someone who could be a middle-of-the-order run-producer." Only one package the Indians considered in the final days before the trade was completed involved a pitcher as the core player involved. Seven teams showed legitimate interest in Sabathia in the past week, and three remained in the running over the weekend. It is believed the Phillies and Dodgers were the other two finalists. While the teams the Indians were talking to were all hungry to remain in contention -- and the Brewers, by virtue of their 26-year absence from the postseason, were particularly motivated -- none of them could match the desperation of the 2002 Expos. "Obviously, our trading partner [in '02] was a very unique partner," Shapiro said, "one that was threatened to be contracted, which made their young players a lot less important to them at that juncture in time." These days, young players are guarded much more fiercely in trade talks. Indeed, LaPorta, who was the seventh overall pick in last year's Draft, was considered untouchable in trade talks as recently as last week. "LaPorta was the best single player of any deals as a premium piece," Shapiro said. With that in mind, the Indians made the Brewers their final target sometime Saturday night. And over the course of the next 24 hours, they nailed down a deal. One of the final sticking points was the player to be named. One of them is believed to be Class A third baseman Taylor Green. The Indians have until the end of the Minor League season to make that call. It's highly unusual for a player to be named to be a key piece of a trade, but Shapiro and his staff wanted as much time as possible to get a firm scouting report on the last player they'll get for Sabathia. In the meantime, right-hander Rob Bryson intrigues the Indians because, at 20, he's shown a plus arm and has a penchant for throwing strikes (73 strikeouts and 20 walks in 22 appearances at Class A Brevard County). Left-hander Zach Jackson, putting up underwhelming numbers at Triple-A Nashville, was a throw-in simply to provide pitching depth for this season. For now, consider him the Lee Stevens of this deal. But don't consider the trade of Sabathia to be Bartolo Colon II. While Shapiro admitted the market for Sabathia was stronger than he originally envisioned, given the big left-hander's contract status, this swap was more difficult to consummate. "It was a more challenging environment to acquire young talent," Shapiro said. "With that being said, we're very happy with the terms we arrived at than the alternatives of the Draft picks."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.