Wow! Cleveland Indians catcher Victor Martinez is going to have to wait until August to get the chance to hit his first home run of the 2008 season. Maybe more amazing is last year's AL Central winner may now find its hand forced into playing for next season. Injuries to Travis Hafner, Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook compound the Martinez injury. If the hints about Grady Sizemore from Will Carroll's Under The Knife column contain truth, then Grady Sizemore may be dealing with some unannounced injury, too.
All of this makes free-gent-to-be C.C. Sabathia the in-season equivalent of Johan Santana last winter. Every potential trade and/or trade rumor will be contingent on what the Indians do with Sabathia and which team acquires him.
Will the Red Sox deal their top prospects for a lesser a pitcher or will they wait for the resolution of Sabathia trade talks? The Chicago Cubs? The New York Yankees? The Los Angeles Dodgers? Those four clubs have the prospects to deal to get C.C. Sabathia, and the means to keep him from free agency with a $100+ MM contract extension.
At this point, speculating who will acquire Sabathia puts the cart ahead of the horse. The initial focus needs to be on what the Indians need to fill organizationally and then work from that point towards which team can meet those needs.
The Indians need hitting at the outfield corners and in the infield. Dave Dellucci, Ben Francisco, Franklin Guitierrez, Shin Soo Choo are great 4th outfielders. Andy Marte and Asdrubal Cabrera have youth on their side, but nothing else.
If the Indians decide to use Sabathia to address hitting, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the best fits. 3B Andy LaRoche has the plate discipline the Indians like, and he doesn't appear to be a favorite in LA. He easily fills 3B. Juan Pierre has proven he is what he is, and Joe Torre likes him as a result. Including Matt Kemp would improve upon the Indians current crop of younger outfielders. Andre Ethier doesn't do it to the same extent as he is close to what the Indians currnently have.
Would an offer of 3B Andy LaRoche and Andre Ethier get a deal done? I'm not sure. Including Matt Kemp would, but I'd expect the Dodgers to try and improve another area by getting the Indians to include another piece. Some obvious players would be those Indians whose contracts expire at season's end or the year after. Could the Dodgers use a veteran reliever like Joe Borowski? Maybe they like a veteran outfielder and left-handed bat like Dave Dellucci?