Today, the Chicago Cubs dealt outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and around $4 million (all but about $700k of Fukudome’s remaining salary) to the Cleveland Indians for right fielder prospect Abner Abreu and relief pitcher Carlton Smith.
Abreu is the clear centerpiece of the deal, and, as a 21 year old in High A ball, there are reasons to be excited. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Indians 23rd best prospect before the 2010 season (and it’s a fairly good system), and is described as having impressive tools. Baseball America also said he had the best outfield arm in the Indians’ entire system. He has good speed and athleticism, and he’s started stealing bases at a solid clip over the last two years. His power is continuing to develop.
Now for the cold water.
Abreu is repeating High A, and his numbers have only slightly improved the second time around. His line is a modest .244/.294/.429, and he strikes out *a ton.* I have a hard time believing that, if the Indians’ system were re-ranked today, Abreu would still be in the top 30. Obviously Indians prospects aren’t exactly my forte, so I could be wrong. Some are suggesting the Cubs did quite well to bring in Abreu, but, for now, he strikes me as the kind of prospect who hasn’t worked out well for the Cubs in recent memory – an athletic, toolsy outfielder with latent power who loves to swing at everything.
As for Smith, well, shrug. To be completely honest, I have a hard time figuring out why the Cubs wanted to take him on at all. At 25, he’s never acquitted himself better than average in a long minor league career (career 4.21 ERA with “meh” peripherals). He’s bullpen depth and little more – but is that something the Cubs really need when they’ve got a half dozen Carlton Smiths of their own toiling away in AAA and AA? I assume they saw something they thought they could work with, but my expectations are low.
In the end, given that the Cubs are saving a measly $7ook in the deal, it’s hard to feel like they got much of a return for Fukudome. To be clear, I didn’t expect the moon – or even a great prospect. But, given the amount of salary the Cubs are eating, it’s hard not to feel like the Indians are getting Fukudome for nothing.
Now watch Abreu and Smith blow up over the next few years so obsessive Internet types can find this post and subsequently throw it in my face.
Actually, I’d be just fine with that.