Versatile DeRosa traded to Cleveland

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
3:40
PM ET
The Cubs' loss -- a result of cost-cutting -- represents the Indians' gain.

On Wednesday, the Indians acquired Mark DeRosa, a surprisingly underrated fantasy hitter, in exchange for three pitching prospects: Chris Archer, John Gaub and Jeff Stevens. None of the three is considered close to elite. The deal presents an interesting conundrum for the Indians: Who will play where in that infield?

Mark DeRosaJamie Squire/Getty ImagesDon't expect Mark DeRosa to have the same season he had in '08.
Presumably, the Indians will go with an arrangement of DeRosa at second base, Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop and Jhonny Peralta at third base. Such an arrangement would be smarter from a defensive perspective. That's all a credit to Cabrera's range; the guy can cover a ton of ground. Not that Peralta's range was poor, as he ranked fifth in range factor among qualified shortstops in the 2008 season, but shifting him to third with Cabrera at short is a stronger arrangement. Besides, Peralta has been playing third base in winter ball, a sign that the shift is coming.

For fantasy owners, the result of the DeRosa deal and the ensuing infield shuffle is increased positional flexibility for Peralta. Cabrera already carries second base and shortstop eligibility, while DeRosa qualifies at second base, third base and the outfield. Peralta should add third base to his list of eligible positions by the end of April, helping to boost his value, albeit slightly. It's something to keep in mind in the mid-to-late rounds, especially when making decisions between comparably valued players.

Be aware that DeRosa will turn 34 in February and is coming off a career year, one that ranked him sixth among second basemen on the 2008 Player Rater. Asking him to repeat a season in which he managed 21 home runs, 87 RBIs and 103 runs scored is a bit much because each of those totals is more than 15 percent higher than his next-best seasons in those categories. Also, DeRosa has batted .296, .293 and .285 the past three seasons, which are healthy numbers. But if you combine the seasons and then split them by home and road games, and you'll see DeRosa was a .304 hitter with an .844 OPS at home and .278/.796 on the road. Clearly, the ballparks in Texas and Chicago helped him offensively, and the shift to Cleveland's Progressive Field, a more neutral/slightly pitcher-friendly environment, will hurt.

Expect something more in the ballpark of a .280 batting average, 15 home runs and 70 RBIs for DeRosa, keeping him a top-10 candidate at second base accounting for his position flexibility. Still, at best, he's a mid-to-late-round pick.

Turning to the Cubs, rumor has it the DeRosa trade was designed to clear up some payroll to add a free agent. Milton Bradley is a popular name that has been tossed around. But all indications are that the Jake Peavy trade talks with San Diego remain dead.

Aaron MilesScott Boehm/Getty ImagesAaron Miles
At second base, Aaron Miles was brought in on a two-year, $4.9 million contract on Wednesday to battle Mike Fontenot for the job. A platoon of some sort -- Fontenot starting against most right-handers, Miles against all left-handers and select righties -- might be the result of their probable spring training battle. Unfortunately, neither player would amount to much for fantasy in that kind of arrangement. Fontenot, in fact, is the one whose value would suffer most. He'd have had a better chance at repeating his 2008 numbers if given the chance to play every day.

Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball, football and hockey analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.

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