Tribe acquires DeRosa from Cubs
Veteran infielder centerpiece of club's four-player deal
CLEVELAND -- The Indians have found their third baseman.It just so happened that he was somebody else's second baseman. The Tribe acquired infielder Mark DeRosa from the Cubs in a New Year's Eve swap that sent Minor League right-handers Jeff Stevens and Chris Archer and left-hander John Gaub to the Cubs. With that, the Indians filled the only glaring hole in their infield with a versatile defender and productive bat. Though the 33-year-old DeRosa played primarily at second base for the Cubs, he will make the move to the hot corner for the Indians, who would rather not disrupt their infield by moving Jhonny Peralta from shortstop to third and Asdrubal Cabrera from second to short. DeRosa has played 206 career games at third, and some consider it to be his best position. He should also see some time in the Indians' corner outfield spots. "What's important about Mark DeRosa is he's a perfect fit for our team," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "He's a right-handed, versatile, high-character guy with postseason experience. He fits well in our lineup and in the culture of our team. He's going to help us win from every side you look at it." The Indians did not have to give up a single proven Major Leaguer to acquire DeRosa, who is coming off his career-best season. The key to that achievement is DeRosa's impending free-agent eligibility. He is in the final year of a three-year, $13 million deal that will pay him $5.5 million in 2009, and he will be eligible for free agency after the season. DeRosa, who was not immediately available for comment but is expected to speak with Cleveland reporters Friday, has the ability to play all four infield positions and both corner outfield spots. That should be a real asset to an Indians team with flexibility in its infield composition. Peralta played third during his stint in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, and Cabrera's natural position is shortstop. "He can play second base, first base, left field or right field," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's a guy we're not going to hesitate to throw in the outfield, depending on who we're giving a day off or who we're facing. That versatility is huge. This is a very solid pickup." The right-handed hitting DeRosa should also be a nice complement to the Indians' lineup, where, Wedge said, he might bat in the No. 2 spot. In '08, DeRosa batted .285 with 30 doubles, three triples, 21 homers and 87 RBIs in 149 games. He notched career highs in on-base percentage (.376), homers, RBIs, walks (69) and runs scored (103). He hit .310 off left-handed pitching and .322 with runners in scoring position, ranking sixth in the National League. Shapiro said the Indians are bracing themselves for DeRosa's homer total to take a little bit of a dip when he makes the move from cozy Wrigley Field to Progressive Field. "But we expect him to be productive and to complement our lineup extremely well," Shapiro said.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.