July 31, 2009

Twins, A's swap shortstops

Update 3:10: Joe Christensen said (via his Twitter page) that the Twins are done trading. They worked on deals for Heath Bell, Jon Rauch and Mike Wuertz up until the deadline.

He also said that the predicted roster move for Cabrera is to send Alexi Casilla to Triple-A. But since Cabrera is not expected to be in the lineup until tomorrow, that could very well change overnight.


As has been reported here already, the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics have agreed to a trade that will send Orlando Cabrera to the Twins in exchange for Tyler Ladendorf. The original asking price was thought to be Danny Valencia, so the fact the Twins got Cabrera in exchange for Ladendorf speaks volume of the market for the 34-year-old shortstop Cabrera.

Ladendorf is a 21-year-old shortstop who is in his second year with the Twins after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft out of Howard College. Ladendorf struggled mightily in his first go-around of pro ball in 2008, hitting just .204/.308/.293 in his first 147 at bats with the Gulf Coast League Twins. And prior to the 2009 season, Ladendorf was my 33rd ranked prospect in the Twins system. Here's what I had to say about him:
Breakdown: The Twins selected Tyler Ladendorf in the second round of the 2008 draft. Heading into the draft, he was regarded as one of the best JUCO players in the country. He hit .542 with 29 doubles, 5 triples, 16 home runs and 83 RBI in 53 games his Sophomore season at Howard College. He has a lot of pop in his bat, unfortunately he struggled in his first go-around in pro ball which is why he is ranked this low. He has a good glove and is a solid all-around player. Some believe that he may have to move to third base eventually, but at this time he's going to be used as a shortstop. I like Ladendorf a lot and I think that his good defense and strong eye at the plate may give the Twins a reason to move him to Beloit after 175 disappointing plate appearances in the GCL. If he struggles in Spring Training, he will probably be held in Extended Spring Training and will later head to Elizabethton, but if he succeeds, he could be in Beloit on opening day.
Note: In case you missed it, Ladendorf also was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site last summer.

But Ladendorf started turning heads early this summer, hitting .410/.500/.721 with the Elizabethton Twins through 61 at-bats. He was then promoted to Single-A to help a horrid Beloit Snappers lineup and Ladendorf came back down to earth and hit .233/.292/.267 through 60 at-bats with the Snappers. But still, his early success this season inflated his value enough for the Twins to convince the A's (as if they truly needed to convince them) that Ladendorf was the best they'd be getting for Cabrera. And from the A's perspective, they should be thrilled they even got Cabrera considering it seemed as though it was the Twins or bust for Cabrera.

Ladendorf mixes in good speed, good arm/glove and power in a strong frame. But if he gets much bigger, he projects to be a third baseman in the future. And I do agree with La Velle Neal on what he said regarding losing Ladendorf. If the Twins had a hard time giving up Ladendorf, sign Miguel Angel Sano to replace him. By all reports, Sano is a much better prospect (obviously, nobody is going to sign him until they figure everything out with his contract).

While Ladendorf is a promising prospect, I do also like this trade from the Twins' standpoint. Like Seth Stohs said:
"Comments I have heard from other Twins bloggers is that the deal is not going to make the Twins better, but simply to appease the players. With the Mauer situation, that is not a minor thing."

And he's completely right. The Twins players have been hoping for an acquisition like this and with Joe Mauer's future in Minnesota still unknown, this sends a good message to the him and the rest of the team. Is it enough to get Mauer to stay? Obviously this alone won't do it. But it should help the Twins get some leverage when even an ounce of leverage in contract talks with a superstar is a much-needed bonus.

One thing that I find interesting to note...

The A's are also sending the Twins cash in the deal. While that may not seem like anything on the surface, I do think it might have legs. Could the Twins have gotten Cabrera for much less than Ladendorf had the A's not chipped in money? Perhaps the A's insisted, but it does fit the Twins' M.O. of asking another team to pick up some of a player's salary.

And with that said, with the trade deadline now drawing to the close. The window of opportunity to add another player is dwindling fast and although even one move comes as a slight surprise, it'd still be nice to see the Twins add a pitcher. With Jarrod Washburn going to Detroit for a couple of mediocre prospects, it's not unrealistic to believe the Twins could get Jon Garland or Doug Davis (among others) for less. Pitching is an even bigger need than the middle infield, so I'm still hoping the Twins can quickly put something together.

Perhaps they'll look to add a reliever instead of a starter? Stay tuned...