Indians acquire Fukudome from Cubs

The Indians swung a trade with the Cubs on Thursday that brought outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland and sent two Tribe farmhands to Chicago.

To fans immediately screaming, “THIS is the Indians’ BIG move?!”, well, no, I don’t think this is a “big” move, or even the only move Cleveland will try to pull off before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

This move is an upgrade over Cleveland’s current outfield options and, really, little else. The Indians did not give up much in the grand scheme of things (Class A outfielder Abner Abreu and AAA pitcher Carlton Smith) and the Cubs agreed to foot most of the bill (roughly $4 million of the estimated $4.7 million still owed Fukedome).

Fukudome’s statistics won’t blow anyone away, but he potentially provides Cleveland with an improvement over the Austin Kearns/Travis Buck combination in right field. He won’t bring much pop, but he gets on base, provides solid enough defense and has performed well in the ol’ clutch hitting department.

On the year, Fukudome has a .273 average with a .374 on-base percentage and a .742 OPS. Those figures would rank fourth, second and fifth, respectively, among Indians regulars (if we’re allowing Sizemore’s season line to count, that is). In the OPS+ department, again, including Sizemore, Fukudome would rank fifth on the Tribe.

If you’re quick to point out that Fukudome’s numbers come in the National League, it’s fair to note that the NL (3.80) has a better overall ERA than the American League (3.91) at the moment, for what that’s worth. Against the AL this year, Fukudome has hit .178 (8-for-45) in 14 games, for whatever that’s worth, too.

Fukudome’s RBI total (13) doesn’t come with much of a wow factor, but he has hit .311/.516/.467 with runners in scoring position and .304/.556/.435 with runners in scoring position and two outs. With two outs — runners or no runners — he’s hit .324/.462/.392 this season.

Am I blown away by this move? Hardly. But it’s a step up over Kearns (.216/.318/.313/80 OPS+) and Buck (.228/.275/.342/74 OPS+). To clear room on the 40-man roster and active roster, the Indians actually designated Buck for assignment. Cleveland has 10 days to trade or release him, or re-assign him to the Minors if he clears waivers.

Fukudome waived his limited no-trade clause to approve the trade to Cleveland, which was one of the teams listed in his contract. The outfielder told Chicago reporters that the Cubs presented him with the possibility of going to the Indians shortly after the All-Star break. Word is his personal masseuse and translator are coming to Cleveland, too.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti — still on the lookout for offensive and rotation help via trades — noted that Fukudome could potentially be worth Draft pick compensation. As things stand right now, Fukudome would qualify as a Type B free agent this winter, and would net one compensatory pick if Cleveland offered him arbitration and he declined in favor of free agency.

–JB

1 Comment

where’s the original Castronauts? Recently got with the 21st c. and joined Twitter. Look me up @Seel_Deal

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