Transactions: Indians Acquire Lillibridge

Yes, he's the one with that face thing.

In a swap of floatsam for jetsam, the Indians sent minor league reliever Jose De La Torre to Boston in exchange for Brent Lillibridge. First, on the debit side of the ledger: De La Torre is a 26 year old who has never appeared in the majors. He strikes a lot of batters out, but he also walks a lot of batters. He was not on the Indians 40-man and he also has all of his options, both characteristics that likely made him appealing to Boston. For the most optimistic take on De La Torre possible, go read the Transactions piece at Over the Monster; I'll now concentrate on trying to write something equally optimistic regarding Lillibridge.

Lillibridge is a one-time sort of top prospect. Coming up through the Pirates system, he hit like crazy in A and A+, all while appearing competent at both middle infield spots. The Pirates sent him to Atlanta, along with Mike Gonzalez, in exchange forAdam LaRoche+. Lillibridge didn't hit much in Atlanta, or with their AA/AAA affiliates, and eventually found his way to Chicago in the Javier Vazquez deal. For his first two years in Chicago, he appeared to be exactly the same player he'd been in Atlanta: a guy who could flash some leather but struggled to hit in AA, let alone the majors. He bounced up and down for the White Sox in 2009 and 2010, although the White Sox did start asking him to play CF, increasing his value.

In 2011, for the first time in his career, Lillibridge did not appear in the minor leagues. Instead, he accumulated 216 PA's top side, playing all three outfield positions, as well as 1B and 2B. It was a breakout season, as the newly anointed super-utility man posted an 845 OPS, fueled by a sudden increase in homerun power. Lillibridge has 16 career homeruns since his major league debut in 2007; he hit 13 of them in 2011 and he's hit none since then.

Lillibridge was unable to replicate his power surge this year, and Chicago decided to utilize him in a different way: as a throw-in to the Kevin Youkilis trade. Lillibridge was unable to revive himself in his short stint with the Red Sox and the team chose to DFA him last week, meaning they had 10 days to trade him or allow him to walk. He now finds himself coming to Cleveland (he's ok with it, per Twitter).

Though he was a middle infielder coming up through the minors, Lillibridge can now play every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher and he's generally well regarded defensively from what I can tell. He is being added to the Indians 40 man roster, with Lonnie Chisenhall moving to the 60-day DL. He will be added to the 25 man roster in the next few days; all signs would point to Aaron Cunningham's DFA being the corresponding move. It's unlikely Lillibridge will ever again hit anything like he did in 2011, but he can be a capable late-inning defensive replacement in the mold of Cunningham and, hopefully, he'll hit a bit more than that. Also like Cunningham, he's right-handed, meaning he could conceivably pinch-hit for Kotchman or Hannahan. Pinch-hitting with Brent Lillibridge sounds absurd but, then again, so do Kotchman and Hannahan's lines against lefties if you read them aloud.

Year Age Tm G PA R H 2B 3B HR SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Pos
2008 24 ATL 29 85 9 16 6 1 1 2 0 3 23 .200 .238 .338 .576 51 6/5
2009 25 CHW 46 112 9 15 2 0 0 6 3 14 26 .158 .273 .179 .452 20 48/6D5
2010 26 CHW 64 101 19 22 5 2 2 5 3 3 36 .224 .248 .378 .625 66 4D/86579
2011 27 CHW 97 216 38 48 5 1 13 10 6 17 62 .258 .340 .505 .845 124 938/7D4
2012 28 TOT 59 86 10 13 1 0 0 7 2 4 31 .165 .212 .177 .389 6 37/859D
2012 28 CHW 49 70 10 11 1 0 0 7 2 4 26 .175 .232 .190 .422 16 37/58D
2012 28 BOS 10 16 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .125 .125 .125 .250 -33 /983D
5 Yrs 295 600 85 114 19 4 16 30 14 41 178 .212 .279 .351 .630 67
162 Game Avg. 162 329 47 63 10 2 9 16 8 23 98 .212 .279 .351 .630 67
CHW (4 yrs) 256 499 76 96 13 3 15 28 14 38 150 .217 .291 .362 .653 73
ATL (1 yr) 29 85 9 16 6 1 1 2 0 3 23 .200 .238 .338 .576 51
BOS (1 yr) 10 16 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .125 .125 .125 .250 -33
AL (4 yrs) 266 515 76 98 13 3 15 28 14 38 155 .214 .285 .354 .639 70
NL (1 yr) 29 85 9 16 6 1 1 2 0 3 23 .200 .238 .338 .576 51
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/24/2012.
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