It had been reported on Friday that the Yankees had previously called the Indians about Asdrubal Cabrera. However, talks between the Cardinals and Indians regarding Cabrera were in further stages than talks between the Yankees and Indians. Personally, this is something I hope changes. Cabrera fits so many needs and it would be at least a little disappointing if the Yankees missed out on a potential trade.
Cabrera, though he'd be a definite upgrade from what the Yankees have received from their shortstops (.214/.267/.269, 44 wRC+), has had a down year by his standards. Through 294 plate appearances, Asdrubal is hitting .249/.312/.415 with a 102 wRC+. This comes after posting wRC+'s of 112 and 118 in the previous two seasons. His BABIP (.309) this season is just a few hairs lower than his career BABIP of .318, but obviously nothing drastic. What's odd, though, is that Cabrera has a career-high line drive rate of 25.4%, which, by the way, is a growing trend for him; his line drive rate has increased every year since 2010, so hopefully some positive results start to follow.
What's almost as bad as the Yankees' overall lack of offensive production is their inability to hit lefties. As a team, the so-called Bombers have a 75 wRC+ against lefties, nine points lower than their season wRC+ of 84 against both righties and lefties. Asdrubal has an 86 wRC+ against lefties, but in only 97 PA's. He does, however, have a career wRC+ against lefties of 112. If he is acquired and reverts back to his old form against lefties, he would be quite the upgrade against southpaws.
If acquired, Cabrera would have to learn to play third base some. He has played a grand total of one game at the hot corner and that came way back in 2008. With Alex Rodriguez's injury and possible Biogenesis problems, to go along with Kevin Youkilis' season-ending/close-to-season-ending back injury, it'd sure be great to get some offense at third base in the meantime. That said, Cabrera will surely get his fair reps at shortstop, which, of course is also a position of dire need.
Asdrubal not only is under contract for the remainder of this year, is also under contract through 2014 at $10 million. This is a pretty big plus as the Yankees look to drop their payroll under the $189MM mark for next year. To possibly get a player who is still just 27, a switch hitter, has a history of hitting lefties and righties pretty/relatively well, is paid at a very reasonable salary, and can play shortstop and (maybe/hopefully) third would be a pretty nice get.
As to what it'd take to get Cabrera's services: it was reported last winter that the Indians wanted three or four players in return for Cabrera, with one of those three being a big league pitcher and two more being "high-level" prospects. A potential deal between the Phillies and Indians fell through, obviously, because the Indians asked for a third prospect.
One would have to think that Cleveland's demands for Cabrera have dropped since last winter considering a.) He's had a bit of a down year and b.) He's under control for fewer months/years than he was then. That being said, if Cleveland asks for a big league starter (Ivan Nova/ David Phelps) and, say, a "B" prospect (Tyler Austin/Slade Heathcott) I think it's something New York should seriously consider. The Yankees have no one of use in their organization to play shortstop if Derek Jeter is hurt, and even if he's healthy he'll get a lot of at-bats at DH anyway, thus still leaving a vacancy at short.
Everything about the Yankees offense has been said over and over, but it bears repeating: The Yankees offense flat-out sucks and upgrades need to be made sooner rather than later if the team wants to compete for a playoff spot. Though he has some warts, there are a multitude of positives when it comes to Cabrera. If he is truly available for trade, and this may not be a guarantee with Cleveland still in the thick of the AL Central race, the Yankees should be very serious in their pursuit.