The Washington Nationals acquired Cleveland Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera before the trade deadline on Thursday, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The deal gives the Nationals some much needed middle infield helping entering the final two-plus months of the season.
Cabrera, 28, has been the Indians' starting shortstop since 2010, but began his MLB career playing second base. In Washington, he'll likely be replacing second baseman Danny Espinosa going forward, creating a new double-play combination with shortstop Ian Desmond.
That should be an upgrade, even if Cabrera can't improve upon his current production. He's batted .246/.305/.386 with nine homers in 416 plate appearances for the Indians this season, and that would be a solid improvement from the .217/.283/.347 numbers that Espinosa has provided.
Walters, a former ninth-round pick, has spent most of the past couple years with Triple-A Syracuse. He's put up huge numbers there, including a .300/.358/.608 line with 15 homers over 261 plate appearances with the team this season. Washington promoted him to the big leagues for the first time last year, and he's also spent time with the team this season.
Walters has some versatility, having played second base, third base, shortstop and left field for Washington over 32 games this season. He also smacked three homers during his limited time, batting 205/.279/.462 over 43 plate appearances.
The cost for Cabrera -- a free agent at the end of the year -- seems high, considering Walters' ability to hit for power and play the middle infield. However, it was a seller's market for second basemen, with the A's, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Giants all scrambling for the same players. The willingness to give Walters up for two or months of Cabrera shows just how far Espinosa has fallen. After hitting 38 homers from 2011 through 2012, Espinosa's defense wasn't enough to carry his unfortunate average and on-base percentage, especially after the power dried up, too.