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How Asdrubal Cabrera fits in Philadelphia

Asdrubal Cabrera
Asdrubal Cabrera of the Mets scores in the first inning against the New York Yankees during their game at Yankee Stadium on July 20, 2018. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Even if nothing else comes from the acquisition of Asdrubal Cabrera, at least Phillies pitchers won’t continue to be blistered by him when he’s in the other dugout. In 57 career games against the Phillies, Cabrera has 12 home runs, the most he has hit against any team and has hit .355 with a 1.009 on-base-plus-slugging-percentage. Add to that the fact that the career .270 hitter with a .756 OPS in his 12 seasons will now be swinging with a Phillies uniform on to help the team rather than beat them into oblivion.

While he has been locked in as the Mets everyday second baseman this season, Cabrera has the defensive flexibility that the Phillies love to have in a player with the ability to play second, third and short. GM Matt Klentak looked to make it pretty clear to reporters that Cabrera does not simply take away Scott Kingery‘s spot at shortstop on an everyday basis. Instead, Kingery will work as somewhat of a super-sub the way his role was initially meant to be at the beginning of the season. It’s also likely that Cabrera will move around the infield as well. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t been able to play the numbers match-up game as much as he would have liked to this season because of injuries and prolonged slumps that have taken players out of the picture.

The injury to J.P. Crawford made Kingery the everyday second baseman and Aaron Altherr was dropped out of the right field platoon when his average stayed south of the Mendoza Line and eventually moved his to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“I don’t necessarily agree that Kingery will be the one that takes the brunt of this,” said Klentak in referring to how much playing time the rookie might lose. “I think Scott Kingery will continue to play fairly regularly and Asdrubal will work in at a few different spots and we will make sure that all of these guys get reps and ultimately, that we are running out the most competitive lineup on a daily basis.”

Klentak went on to talk about Kapler’s ability to mix-and-match lineups and put players in a position to succeed. While it would be difficult to keep a newly acquired switch-hitting infielder with 18 home runs and a .277 average this season out of the lineup, it won’t be easy to keep a young player who has shown development over the season out of the lineup much, either. Nor would it make sense for Maikel Franco to sit for any extended period of time based on how he has played this month, with a 7-14-.307/.350/.613 line for the month of July. Cesar Hernandez anchors the leadoff spot and has good defensive skills to go with a consistent bat, making him valuable enough to not move from the lineup.

The player who is likely squeezed out of playing time is Crawford, who is set to begin a rehab assignment shortly and would have figured to return to the Phillies either in the super utility role or as the everyday shortstop when he returned. Now, it’s very possible that he spends time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and returns in September when rosters expand.

A couple of minor league players could also see their time in the organization end. Danny Espinosa and Ryan Goins both have opt-out clauses in their minor league deals and with the Cabrera trade, have been pushed further down the depth chart and have likely seen what little hope they had of reaching the majors in a Phillies uniform disappear unless a number of injuries were to hit the Phillies.

As for where in the lineup Kapler will drop Cabrera is anyone’s guess. With the Mets this season, Cabrera hit almost exclusively – 80 out of 98 games – in the top third of the lineup. He served as the number-two hitter in 42 games, hit third in 25 games and was the leadoff man in 13 Mets games this season.

With some time remaining prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline, could the Cabrera trade set the Phillies up to make another move? With four players to play three positions, it’s possible that the Phillies could look at putting together a large scale trade using either Cabrera or Hernandez as bait. Boston is said to be looking for an upgrade at second base. The Sox have had Dustin Pedroia, who is rehabbing a balky knee that had cartilage replacement surgery performed on it during the offseason, for just three games this season. Eduardo Nunez (2-26-.252) and Brock Holt (1-25-.278) playing at second base this season. While Boston is hopeful that Pedroia will return at some point this season there are no guarantees.

As for having given up Franklyn Kilome in the deal, the Phillies are able to absorb the loss of a young arm thanks to pitching depth throughout the minors. Kilome has been slowly moving down the Phillies prospect list as other young pitchers have surpassed his potential.

Cabrera is likely to join the Phillies Saturday night in Cincinnati.

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