CLEVELAND -- Mark DeRosa, who had been rumored to be a part of three- and four-team scenarios in the Jake Peavy trade talks, is finally headed out of Chicago -- but not in a deal for the San Diego Padres' ace.
DeRosa has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for minor league pitchers Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub. DeRosa will likely slide into Cleveland's opening at third base.
"We're going to take advantage of his versatility," Indians
general manager Mark Shapiro said. "As the season unfolds, that's
one of the many assists he can bring to the table."
With the Cubs close to finalizing another trade -- right-hander Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for right-handed reliever Luis Vizcaino -- the deals are seen as a precursor to the Cubs negotiating a free-agent deal with outfielder Milton Bradley.
Neither of Chicago's moves expected to trigger a trade for Peavy. Sources tell ESPN that there are no ongoing talks between the Cubs and Padres involving Peavy.
The 33-year-old DeRosa hit a career-high 21 homers and drove in 87 runs last season in 149 games while playing six different positions for the NL Central champion Cubs.
One of the Indians' priorities during the offseason was to find a dependable, right-handed-hitting infielder. They've considered moving shortstop Jhonny Peralta to third and Asdrubal Cabrera from second to short, and DeRosa's versatility gives them even more options. He made 95 appearances (80 starts) at second base and 22 (10 starts) at third for the Cubs in 2008.
"This is the best infield, that's it," Shapiro said addressing
the club's decision to keep Peralta and Cabrera in place. "If we
didn't think it was best, we would have moved three guys."
The only other everyday third baseman on Cleveland's roster is Andy Marte. He batted only .221 in 80 games and had to hit .291 over his final 34 games to finish with a respectable average. Marte is out of options.
Peralta, who has limited range, has been playing third base during winter ball in the Dominican Republic. The Indians' preference would be to leave him at short, where he makes all the routine plays but is not as flashy as former Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel -- the Gold Glove measuring stick at the position for Cleveland fans.
DeRosa will be eligible for free agency after making $5.5 million this season. He has been invited to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He has driven in at least 70 runs in each of the past three seasons, and the former college quarterback at Pennsylvania has a .302 career batting average against left-handers.
Shapiro said he has been in talks with Cubs GM Jim Hendry about
DeRosa since November.
Indians manager Eric Wedge described DeRosa as "a tough out"
and "very solid pickup." He expects DeRosa to bat second in
Cleveland's lineup. Wedge will use DeRosa in the outfield to rest
players and as protection against left-handers.
DeRosa is the second former Cubs player to join Cleveland this winter. The Indians signed closer Kerry Wood last month and may still try to add another starting pitcher in free agency.
Hendry hated to part with DeRosa, but wanted to add pitching
prospects to improve the club's overall depth.
"Obviously, Mark is very, very good and he's a guy I have
tremendous respect for," Hendry said. "Certainly the Indians are
getting a very, very good player and a first-class young man also.
That part of it is always difficult but we felt we had to move
forward in this direction and we felt had to make this deal."
Stevens was the only pitcher on Cleveland's 40-man roster
involved in the deal. The 25-year-old right-hander went 5-1 last
season in 17 games for Double-A Akron and 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA with
five saves in 19 games at Triple-A Buffalo.
Archer was 4-8 in 27 starts at Class A Lake County and Gaub was
1-1 in 34 games with the Captains.
"These are three different guys with quality arms at different
levels," Hendry said. "From an acquiring point of view, we felt
we did very well. Mark [Shapiro] will be the first to tell you that
while they very much coveted Mark [DeRosa], this deal certainly
stung for them too."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.