Peralta Dealt to Tigers; Indians Acquire Minor League Pitcher

By: T.J. Zuppe

The Cleveland Indians dealt third-basemen Jhonny Peralta to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday evening, and thus ended the playing career of the surprisingly long tenured Indian. The Indians also sent some cash Detroit’s way, and acquired young left-handed starter Giovanni Soto.

Third Baseman Jhonny Peralta

Peralta spent the better part of eight seasons with the Indians at the major league level, and ranged anywhere between promising young hitter, to disappointing non-fan-favorite.

Starting out as the replacement to former-Indian Omar Vizquel, Peralta had huge shoes to fill, and began his career as a top-notch prospect, who was expected to become the next great American League shortstop.

In his rookie season of 2003, Peralta hit only .227 with four homeruns and 21 driven in, but in his first full season in the big-leagues in 2005 he had arguably his best year as a member of the Tribe, hitting .292 with a career-high 24 homeruns and 78 driven in.

After that, Peralta has been full of disappointment as far as numbers are concerned, as he never lived up to those stats, despite a decent year in 2008, where he hit .276 with 23 homeruns and 89 runs driven in, a career-high.

Since then, Peralta has hit a combined .251 between 2009 and 2010, only hitting 18 homeruns and driving in 126 in 916 at bats. The Indians hoped the everyday move to third-base, a more natural position for Peralta’s limited range would help, but his numbers still stayed in steady decline.

He was only hitting .246 with seven homeruns at the time of the trade, and was second on the team in RBI with 43.

Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro

“(This trade) was made based on alternatives at the position” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. “We had come to the decision we were not going to pick up his option next year.”

The Tigers will have to deal with the buyout of his option in the 2011 season.

“It’s a moment where you express appreciation for what that guy has done here,” Shapiro said. “I’m proud of him and what he’s accomplished in the big leagues, and I think he’s going to play in the big leagues for a long time.”

“The business side of it dictated the end of his Indians career at least at this juncture.”

Shapiro expressed that with the decision to not pick up his option year, it became better for the organization to get something in return for the soon-to-be free-agent, that something being the left-handed Soto.

The 19-year old Soto was pitching at Class-A West-Michigan, with a record of 6-6 and an earned run average of 2.61 in 16 starts for the Whitecaps.

“Hes a lanky projectable left-handed starter,” Shapiro said of Soto. “Velocity is not a plus but he’s got a good cutter and good feel for a curveball and changeup as well.”

Soto will be assigned to Class-A Lake County and will pitch for the Captains.

With the trade, the Indians have brought back infielder Luis Valbuena to take the roster spot of Peralta. Valbuena was hitting .313 in 119 at-bats at Class-AAA Columbus. Infielders Jayson Nix, Andy Marte and Valbuena will compete for playing time at third for the rest of the season.

The trade deadline is approaching on Saturday, but Shapiro says there is no urgency to trade anyone for any reason, being financial or otherwise, unlike in years past. He did not comment specifically on the likes of pitchers Jake Westbrook or Fausto Carmona, who have been in trade rumors recently.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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