07/07/08 9:55 AM ET
Tribe reportedly close to Sabathia trade
Brewers would send slugger LaPorta, plus two more prospects
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Milwaukee's WSSP radio reported that Triple-A Nashville left-hander Zach Jackson would go to Cleveland along with LaPorta, and the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Class A West Virginia right-hander Rob Bryson and one other player would also be included.Sabathia flew to Cleveland with the Indians following Sunday's 4-3 loss in Minnesota. But in a text message posted on ESPN.com, he wrote, "I'm good, excited. It's weird leaving these guys." Sabathia had been dangled by the Indians to several teams in recent days. The Rays and Phillies were believed to be finalists in the CC sweepstakes, but the Indians were always intrigued by Milwaukee's depth. The Brewers' Double-A Huntsville club has several prospects of interest to the Indians, including LaPorta, third baseman Mat Gamel, shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Angel Salome. The Indians have also reportedly had their eye on Class A third baseman Tyler Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain. The Indians opted not to make Sabathia available over the winter because they believed he was a key to their hopes of defending their AL Central title. But when the club suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the first-place White Sox last week to fall into a double-digit deficit in the Central standings, Sabathia went on the market. The Tribe's efforts to sign Sabathia to a contract extension over the winter came up empty. The Indians offered Sabathia a four-year extension through 2012 that would have paid him $18 million a year, and he turned it down and cut off negotiations when Spring Training camp opened. The Indians reportedly made an effort to reignite talks with Sabathia recently. If LaPorta is indeed involved in the trade, he would fit the Indians' need for more power in the organization. LaPorta, who was the Brewers' No. 1 Draft pick last year, was batting .288 with 20 homers, 23 doubles and 66 RBIs through 84 games at Huntsville. The Brewers are 3 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the National League Central standings. Acquiring Sabathia would give them a major push toward reaching the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Milwaukee's chances of locking up Sabathia long-term aren't considered any better than those of the Indians. If the Brewers lose Sabathia to free agency this winter, they would receive two first-round Draft picks as compensation for the loss. Sabathia, who turns 28 on July 21, is 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA this season. He has struck out an AL-leading 123 batters in 122 1/3 innings. A first-round Draft pick of the Tribe in 1998, he has compiled a 106-71 record and 3.83 ERA over the course of eight big league seasons.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.