UPDATE 12:10 AM ET: Jim Bowden reports that the minor league players going to the Cubs will be Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith
Initially reported by Ken Rosenthal, the Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians for two prospects (one pitcher and one position player, the names are unknown at this point). The Indians will also receive cash to pay for more than half of the the $4.7 million owed to Fukudome, says Buster Olney. Fukudome did have a no-trade clause which blocked the Indians, so he had to approve this move.
Presumably, Fukudome will play in right field until Shin-Soo Choo comes back from his left thumb injury in about a month. Fukudome has also played center field in his career and may slot in there if Grady Sizemore does not return from his abdominal surgery quickly.
Fukudome won an MVP award in 2006 in Japan, after batting .351. In 2008, he signed a four year, $48 million contract with the Cubs. He will be a free agent after this year if he does not sign a contract by November 15th. He been seen as a disappointment to the Cubs, with an on base percentage consistently around .370, but barely any power.
With Choo out of the lineup, the Indians have been playing a mixture of Austin Kearns and Travis Buck. While Fukudome is certainly not going to vault the Indians far past the Tigers or White Sox in the Central, it does give them a decent improvement, while keeping their future intact.