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Indians Dealings: Under the radar trades

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Last week, we took a look back at the C.C. Sabathia trade that netted the Indians two solid starters: Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta. The truth is, pretty much everyone is familiar with that trade; it was a behemoth by any standard.

But just as important to the Indians recent success have been the more subtle trades you might not be familiar with. For example, where did the Indians get that kid Ezequiel Carrera from? If you didn’t know any better, you’d think he just appeared out of thin air to lay down a game-winning bunt on Friday against the Reds.

Actually Carrera came to the Indians in a trade, one that you probably didn’t even read about at the time. Let’s take a look at some of those trades that went unnoticed when they occurred, but are now paying off huge for the first-place Indians.

The Fleecing of Seattle

If you ever run into a Seattle Mariners fan, be sure to thank him for his team’s front office failures. In 2006, they traded a 20-year-old prospect by the name of Asdrubal Cabrera to the Indians for aging infielder Eduardo Perez. Cabrera is having an All-Star season and should be a fixture at shortstop for years to come while Perez retired at the end of the 2006 season.

Not satisfied with giving the Tribe one potential All-Star, Seattle also traded Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland that same year. This time it was for platoon player Ben Broussard, who was out of baseball by 2009.

After the 2008 season, the Indians traded Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle as part of a three-team-trade with the New York Mets. The Tribe received infielder Luis Valbuena and reliever Joe Smith in return. This looked like one trade the Indians might regret as Gutierrez put up strong numbers in 2009. Since then, injuries have hampered his progress.

Virtually unnoticed in a part of that three-team-deal, the Mets sent Ezequiel Carrera to Seattle. And guess who then traded Carrera to the Indians in 2010? Yep, the Mariners. This time it was for big-whiffer Russell Branyan.

So the moral of the story… pay attention to any trades Cleveland makes with Seattle. Chances are the Indians will somehow come out ahead in the transaction.

The PTBNL

Ah, the player to be named later (PTBNL). It always seemed like a bit of an affront to be a player traded to another team and not even know who you were being traded for.

This is exactly what happened to Kelly Shoppach in 2009. Shoppach went to the Tampa Bay Rays where he continues to strikeout at a furious pace. The Indians received a PTBNL in return.

What’s nice about the PTBNL is that is allows you to look at a few different players a team is willing to part with. The Rays provided the Indians with a list of players the team could scout and they determined Mitch Talbot was the best player on that list.

This trade hasn’t been a huge success just yet, but Talbot will be returning to the starting rotation after a finger injury to Alex White put him on the DL.

Other Steals

Casey Blake to the Dodgers for catcher Carlos Santana? Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals for closer Chris Perez? While both trades left the Indians hurting in the short-term (leaving the team without a clear-cut third baseman in both cases) they worked out brilliantly for the Indians overall. Don’t worry about that low .208 batting average by Santana. Hits will start to fall soon.

And what if I told you there’s a pitcher with the Clippers (Cleveland’s Triple-A team) who is currently 7-0 with an ERA of 2.42? Would that generate more excitement?

Zach McAllister has put up those gaudy numbers this year in Columbus to position himself as the next pitcher in line for a shot in the Indians rotation. The Indians acquired him from the Yankees last year for Austin Kearns, who returned to Cleveland as a free agent this season.

While not every trade has been a homerun for the Indians, baseball games can be won with enough singles and doubles. It seems like most of these trades have produced hits for the Indians.

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