Word out of Chicago is that the Cubs have traded Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians for prospects Abner Abreu and Carlton Smith.
Chicago will certainly pick up most of the remaining portion of Fukudome’s contract, a reported $775,000 of the remaining $3.9M remaining. The Cubs also brought up Tyler Colvin, although Pat Sullivan is reporting that Tony Campana will start tonight’s game in right field.
The implications of this trade are broad, as the Cubs were able to shed an outfielder on the wrong side of 30 years old whose skill set is limited to drawing walks.
Thus far, Fukudome has generated 0.2 WAR (according to FanGraphs) much of his decline coming from losing his once prominent range in the field as he has aged. All of his offensive value has derived from his ability to draw walks, as he has posted a strong .374 OBP, however only a .369 slugging percentage. Needless to say, he hasn’t lived up to his $13M+ contract.
As for Colvin, he also has been poor at the plate, although we shall see if a full-time role, combined with more time in the minors will benefit his long-term development.
The prospects that the Cubs received aren’t world-class, blue chip prospects, although neither were the prospects brought back in the Mark DeRosa trade–and one of those turned into a pre-season top 50 prospect (Chris Archer).
Outfielder Abner Abreu was voted to have the best outfield arm in the Cleveland system before the year, according to Baseball America. Abreu, 21, remains raw at the plate as his .294 OBP will explain. In spite of that, he has some offensive tools you can dream on. Baseball America ranked him 23rd among Cleveland prospects before the season.
Pitcher Carlton Smith, 25, isn’t much more than a relief arm that the Cubs will bring up in case of an injury to the pen. It’ll be hard to see him as more of a seventh inning guy.
All in all, this trade is better than what the Cubs would have gotten for Fukudome had they let him just coast to free agency. He wouldn’t have garnered a Type-B free agent compensation in the offseason, so this deal is a big, big win.