The Toronto Blue Jays are in prime position to make a run for the AL East crown, and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the team's interest has shifted from Rangers outfielder Alex Rios to Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Interestingly, the Indians trail the Jays by 3.5 games in the race for the second wild card, though the teams are trending in opposite directions with the Indians' mediocre play since the All-Star break, including six losses in their last eight games.
AL East Rumors
AL East Rumors
Whether or not the two teams' competition for the American League's final playoff spot will come into play, the Blue Jays do have a serious lack of depth in the infield. Starting middle infielders Jose Reyes and Munenori Kawasaki have held down the fort, but the backup options behind them (Ryan Goins, Steve Tolleson) don't exude much confidence.
Cabrera would likely replace Kawasaki as the team's starting second baseman, though the latter has actually been a more valuable player by certain metrics. Kawasaki is hitting .283 with a solid .331 on-base percentage (compared to Cabrera's .249/.309 totals), and Cabrera's UZR at shortstop (-5.5, according to FanGraphs) doesn't speak well to his fielding ability.
And yet, a move to second base might do Cabrera well, as could a change of scenery in moving to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. The AL East in general favors hitters, so Cabrera would surely be in a better position to succeed offensively (and perhaps defensively with a move to the other side of the infield) in Toronto.
Trading away Cabrera would not necessarily be an indication of the Indians conceding their season, but it would be a sign that the team is trying to slowly phase in top prospect Francisco Lindor, who is currently tearing up Triple-A Columbus (.364/.440/.682) since his recent promotion from Double-A. MLB.com ranks him fifth on its list of top prospects, noting that some scouts consider Lindor to be the best defender in the Minor Leagues. He could make an impact with the big league club when rosters expand, and expecting him to be an upgrade over Cabrera is not unreasonable.