01/17/11 8:13 PM EST
Indians, Cabrera agree, avoid arbitration
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
The pact comes one day prior to the deadline for clubs to exchange salary figures with their remaining arbitration-eligible players. With Cabrera now officially on the books for 2011, Cleveland has three players left unsigned -- outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, and relievers Chris Perez and Rafael Perez.
The Indians might exchange figures with more than one of their eligible players, but the club has a sound history of settling contracts before the arbitration hearings. The hearings, if necessary, are scheduled to be held from Feb. 1-21.
Cleveland has not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since 1991, when it did so with second baseman Jerry Browne and pitcher Greg Swindell. Browne lost and Swindell won, and both players suited up for different teams the next season.
Cabrera, 25, was eligible for arbitration for the first time after spending parts of the past four seasons as a member of the Tribe. Last year he hit .276 with three home runs and 29 RBIs over 97 games for the Indians. He missed two months between May and July because of a broken left forearm.
In his career with Cleveland, Cabrera has filled roles at both shortstop and second base. Cabrera, who has hit .284 with 18 homers and 166 RBIs in 387 career games for the Tribe, is currently in the plans as the starting shortstop for the upcoming season.
The most intriguing storyline within this offseason's arbitration class is whether the team will be able to reach a long-term agreement with Choo. Also eligible for arbitration for the first time, Choo is a player the Tribe hopes to lock up before he can become a free agent after the 2013 season.
Last season, Choo hit .300 with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs in 144 games. He added 31 doubles, 81 runs scored and 22 stolen bases to a .401 on-base percentage. He became the first Indians player since 1901 to have at least a .300 average, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in consecutive seasons.
In November the 28-year-old Choo helped guide South Korea to a gold medal in the Asian Games by hitting .571 with three homers and 11 RBIs in five games. That victory earned him an exemption from his country's two-year military service requirement.
Through arbitration, Choo -- who is represented by Scott Boras -- could see his salary rise to somewhere around the $3 million to $4 million range after earning $461,100 last season. It seems likely that the club will exchange salary figures with him while continuing negotiations on a new contract.
Like Cabrera and Choo, Chris Perez is eligible for arbitration for the first time. Rafael Perez is entering his second year of arbitration after settling on a $795,000 contract last season. The Indians have already avoided arbitration with relievers Jensen Lewis (who will earn $650,000 in 2011) and Joe Smith ($870,000 plus incentives).