Indians Add Fukudome To Help Ailing Outfield

Just a few hours after Chris opined that the Indians needn’t go all-in this season, the Indians made a fairly conservative move. To help shore up their outfield, which is currently short Grady Sizemore and Shin-Shoo Choo, the Indians acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs for two prospects. Chicago will pick up some of the $4.7 million remaining on Fukudome’s deal. While the specific prospects aren’t clear at the time of writing, we can still examine how this helps Cleveland’s chances.

There’s no denying the Indians need for help in the outfield. Sizemore has spent plenty of time on the DL this season, and the Indians cannot count on him to remain healthy and productive for any significant stretch this season. Shin-Soo Choo, after starting the season in uncharacteristically slow fashion, has been on the DL since June 24th. He’s on his way back, but it could still be another month, at the earliest, before he’s back with the Indians. Even then, it’s tough to say how he’ll perform afterward. Thumb injuries are tricky things that can linger.

For the next month Fukudome figures to be the most productive member of Cleveland’s outfield. He currently has a .374 OBP and a 106 wRC+. Michael Brantley, with a .330 OBP and 101 wRC+, is the only active Indians outfielder who comes close to that level of productivity. The trade also squeezes Ezequiel Carrera out of a starting role, for which he is ill-suited. The platoon of Austin Kearns and Travis Buck will continue playing below average in one of the corners, though Carrera could get some time in favor of them if they continue hitting poorly.

Update: The Indians have designated Buck for assignment, so perhaps Carrera will continue seeing significant playing time.

While the move helps on the whole, it might not help the one specific need the Indians have in the outfield. They have combined to produce a .128 ISO, which ranks 11th in the AL. The current unit of Brantley-Carrera-Buck-Kearns has produced an ISO just about at that level (.127), meaning they could really use a boost in the power department. Fukudome, unfortunately, comes in well below the unit’s average with a .096 ISO. While he’ll add value on the whole, in that he gets on base at a far better clip than the other outfielders, he’ll help little in adding the power that they need.

Acquiring Fukudome is by no means a splash, but that’s not what the Indians needed. They needed someone who upgraded on their current outfield, and Fukudome is certainly that. When he puts on an Indians jersey tonight he’ll represent one of their four best active players, and by this year’s numbers he’s their best active performer in the outfield. It’s tough to make that kind of acquisition without it being a huge move. But the Indians found someone who represents and upgrade, and they moved quickly. He might not bring all the tools they need to upgrade, but considering the market and the Indians current position, he was probably the best option available. Things could get better, still, if Sizemore or Choo makes it back in time to help for a September push.

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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

21 Responses to “Indians Add Fukudome To Help Ailing Outfield”

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  1. Bascinator says:

    This is the exact type of player the indians needed. The big question is: what are they giving up?

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    • Chris says:

      Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith.

      Smith could be a useful, if unspectacular reliever, Abreu is talented and has lots of tools, but is raw.

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  2. reillocity says:

    Will Fukudome be the first Japanese OF to play for the Indians since Isuro Tanaka?

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    • Hermie13 says:

      lol. no…but it is the first since we had former world hot dog eating champ Kobyashi


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  3. I think I’d rather see Carerra on a more regular basis than Kearns or Buck. Kearns has shown declining (from already poor in the first place) plate discipline, swinging at anything. Buck has been a little better, but that .275 OBP isn’t likely to come up at all, either. Carerra, meanwhile, has put together some adequate on-base skills in a small sample size, which backs up his .375 OBP and .353 wOBA in AAA this year. And while Carerra isn’t sure-handed, his speed has made him worth about a run every 10 games in the field, which is FAR better than either Kearns or Buck.

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  4. chri521 says:

    According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the Indians have acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs for prospect outfielder Abner Abreu and right-hander Carlton Smith.
    We’re still awaiting an official announcement. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians will be responsible for just $775,000 of the $4.7 million left on Fukudome’s contract for this season.

    Any info on the prospects? Assuming B to C type at best.

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    • david says:

      Abreu has a lot of interesting tools, but has not figured out how to be a good baseball player. He’s finally showing some power this year, but still swings and misses a TON and doesn’t take walks. He’s repeating High-A at 21 and is the kind of guy who gets eaten up at Double-A. He’s got a cannon for an arm. You could probably put a C grade on him.

      Smith is just another guy.

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      • Jamie says:

        Ah, a toolsy speedster who strikes out 30% of the time. Just what the Cubs’ farm system was missing!

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      • Doogolas33 says:

        What were you expecting for a .2WAR player to this point on the season who is a rental?

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      • JamesDaBear says:

        Baseballreference and Fangraphs vary wildly on Fukudome’s WAR. Let’s assume the truth is somewhere in the middle and he’s more than just a .2 WAR player.

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      • amgarvey says:

        There isn’t a chance in hell fukudome is only a .2 WAR player. .374 OBP over 345 PA does not equate to .2 war. His actual war leans more towards the 2.6.

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      • zywicmd says:

        It’s so true though… Hendry just can’t seem to resist these toolsy bat flailers.

        21 years old and currently in A+ ball, Abreu has walked only 62 times in nearly 1300 PAs… sheesh

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  5. Jason says:

    Not to mention the 6% BB rate – he should fit right in with the organizational philosophy

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  6. Yinka Double Dare says:

    This is a great trade for the Indians if they can hypnotize Kosuke into believing that it is April for the next two to three months. Maybe they can ask Jobu to help in that department.

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  7. DededeeHendryy says:

    Another F+ for Hendry. We not only didn’t shed any salary (what’s 775k to THAT payroll) but we didn’t get anything good in return.

    It really sucks being a Cub fan in the era of Jim Hendry.

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    • JamesDaBear says:

      It really does. So much money spent, not nearly enough wins to show for it.

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    • Norm says:

      They weren’t going to get anything good for him as evidenced by the amount of interest in him. If this is such a steal for Cleveland, why didn’t someone else jump in?
      Of course, if Hendry kept Fukudome because this was the best offer, you’d complain that he did NOT trade him, saying he should’ve taken any young players under team control for 6 years.
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

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      • Ben B says:

        Two possibilities: Either you’re omniscient, and”know” that he would have complained if the Cubs had kept Fukudome, or you’re just an arrogant jerk. I’m thinking it’s B…

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  8. How in the hell has Travis Buck not succeeded as a major leaguer?

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    • The Typical Smarter Fan says:

      Travis Buck has never been able to tap into his good tools because of his hair. KURT SUZUKI + HIROKI KURODA + INDIANS = WORLD SERIES BABY!!!!

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  9. ezb230 says:

    this trade just shows that fukudome is no jeff “untouchable” baker.

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