Fantasy Impact: Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals

The Washington Nationals have acquired Asdrubal Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians, sending shortstop Zach Walters back as compensation.

Asdrubal still has great name recognition for fantasy owners, but that’s his biggest selling point anymore. Asdrubal hit .242 last season with a .307 wOBA, and he’s in the midst of repeating it with .246/.306 marks as a member of the Indians. Asdrubal has brought a touch of power to the middle infield — hitting 25 dongs in 2011 — but those numbers have faded each year since, with ZiPS thinking he ends the year with 14, just as he did in 2013. Asdrubal is going to play second base in Washington, which will make him eligible at both middle infield positions for the first time since 2010. Not having to face the Tigers pitching staff will be a boost, and he should get a minor jump in HR potential due to his new ballpark, but Cabrera’s value doesn’t change much with the move.

Walters is an interesting fantasy guy simply because he brings big-time power potential to the infield. Walters is a switch-hitter who came up as a shortstop, but will likely move to third base to better utilize his defensive skills. With very little patience at the plate and hacker’s approach, Walters is likely to never put up a reasonable batting average, but he hit 29 homers in AAA last year and another 15 this year in just 60 games. Odds are Walters won’t be much more than a backup infielder with power in the majors, and even if he does get a starting nod at some point, his batting average will kill his fantasy value.

Outside of the two men traded, Francisco Lindor is going to see the most impact from this trade. Lindor, the Indians’ top prospect and former first round draft pick, will be slated to take over for Asdrubal at shortstop. It’s unclear as of publishing if the Indians wish to push him to the big leagues immediately, but he’ll surely be the favorite to start there next year. Lindor is an advanced fielder who has shown patience and the ability to hit for average while in the minors, as well as a willingness to swipe some bags. Lindor doesn’t have a power frame and is just 20, and even though Lindor has torn up both Double-A and Triple-A pitching this year, a smooth transition to the majors is not guaranteed. If you can get Lindor locked up at a reasonable price for the next 3-4 years, you’ll certainly reap the benefits at some point. 2014 and 2015 may not end up as great fantasy years for the stud shortstop, but he’ll have plenty of those in the future.

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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

8 Responses to “Fantasy Impact: Asdrubal Cabrera to Nationals”

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  1. danwatson19 says:

    Seems odd for Antonetti to take an infielder in trade, given their organizational depth. I wonder if they see Walters pushing Chisenhall at third?

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  2. Gordon Shumway says:

    He’ll also lose some fantasy value due to where he’ll probably end up hitting in the Nats batting order. He spent the season hitting in the two hole for the Indians, I can’t imagine he’ll bat higher than 7th with his new team.

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    • Jim says:

      Worrying less about fantasy and more about the Matt Williams problem, Adam Kilgore tweeted that it could be flexible where he hits in the order. He says Williams likes the idea of a switch hitter batting second.

      As a Nats fan, sigh…… I like the pickup because I don’t think Walters is ever anything more than a backup with a stone glove. It was cheap and he clearly upgrades Espinosa (particularly against RHP… platooning them could be a valid option). Asdrubal should probably be batting 7th or 8th in the order, though.

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  3. blackoutrestrictions says:

    You don’t think that they will platoon Asdrubal with Espinoza? I’m a bit worried that they will do exactly that.

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    • Bil Bo Baggins says:

      Espinosa is 100Pts better batting right handed. He is bascailly not a switch hiter. so there can be no platoon

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  4. buddyglass says:

    Does Rendon lose any AB from this, given he’s had some starts at 2B?

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    • Mike Wimmer says:

      Doubtful since he has been one of the Nats most productive hitters. Plus he is now the main 3B in Washington with Zimmerman being out, possibly until the end of the regular season, with his severe hamstring injury.

      Rendon seems locked into the Nats lineup, this hurts Espinosa more than anyone.

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  5. baltic fox says:

    I’m wondering how much shifts affect UZR numbers. Watching the Nats, you see Williams employ the shift quite a lot.

    I saw a comment earlier by Dave Cameron that this year’s numbers indicate that Espinosa isn’t such a defensive asset as in years past because his UZR numbers are mediocre.

    But when you’re part of a three man shift against a LH batter, how much range do you have to display to get the ball in your glove? Not a lot.

    Does the widespread practice of shifting alter UZR numbers and perhaps indicate the need for a different way of measuring defensive ability?

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