Orlando Cabrera finishes his stint with the Indians with a .244/.277/.321 line, good for a 69 OPS+. That the Indians received a prospect for him is remarkable, and speaks to Cabrera's reputation that even though he should no longer be starting for major-league club, at least one GM was willing to trade an actual prospect for him. Cabrera in his prime was a very good defender at shortstop, but he's a long way from his prime. As a second baseman with the Indians, his range wasn't that great, and the Giants are going to start him at shortstop. Good luck with that. Cabrera for the season has a WAR (Wins above Replacement) of -0.1; even Miguel Tejada, who was having a poor season before the injury, had contributed a positive WAR (0.8).
With Jason Donald healthy and hitting well in Columbus (.306/.395/.445), and the Giants willing to give up a prospect, this a no-brainer from the Indians' perspective. Donald, who's been a bit forgotten because of injuries and the arrival of Kipnis and Chisenhall, gives the Indians a backup at second, short, and third that can also hit. Last season with the Indians, he posted a 93 OPS+ while playing shortstop and second base. I would even go so far to say that the Indians' 25-man roster gets better by trading Cabrera. So even if the Giants had sent a mysterious PTBNL or a 24-year-old relief pitcher in Low-A, I'd like this trade.
But the Giants sent back not only a player that might help the Indians down the road, but a player that fills a large hole in the system. Thomas Neal was given a B- grade by John Sickels before the season; Sickels at the time thought he could be a non-star regular player. Since then, though, he's had a decent (though disappointing) season in Fresno, hitting .295/.351/.409 with a poor SO/BB ratio as a 23-year-old. But even if you downgrade his upside from a starting corner outfielder to a fourth outfielder or possibly a first baseman/corner outfielder, his power potential from the right side of the plate gives the Indians something they didn't really have in the high minors.
There may be a lot of disagreement over the other trade of the day, but not for this one. The Indians improved their 25-man roster by substituting Donald for Cabrera and at the same time brought in a prospect that could help the club as soon as 2012.