CINCINNATI -- The last time Indians general manager Mark Shapiro sent a veteran first baseman to the Mariners was in 2006. He did it twice, in fact, sending both ends of the ill-fated "Benuardo" platoon of Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez to Seattle in separate deals. Not much was made of the prospects brought back. Shapiro himself would be the first to admit the performance of right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, both of whom have become core players, has been a pleasant surprise. So for now, it's difficult for even Shapiro to know the full extent of what Saturday's Russell Branyan trade netted the Tribe. The immediate positive is the room it cleared for Matt LaPorta to get everyday at-bats. But Shapiro doesn't discount the acquisitions he made in Triple-A center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and high Class A shortstop Juan Diaz.
Carrera, billed as a speedy slap hitter and polished defender, will initially head to the Tribe's Arizona facility to complete his rehab from a hip pointer injury. He's expected to report to Columbus in seven to 10 days. "Every scouting report [on Carrera] says he has above-average defense and above-average speed," Shapiro said. "He's a slap, contact hitter with a high on-base percentage." Carrera, 23, was batting .268 with a .654 OPS, nine steals, six doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs in 64 games for Triple-A Tacoma before going on the DL. Last year, he won the Southern League batting title with a .337 mark and was also first in on-base percentage with a .441 mark while at West Tennessee. The 21-year-old Diaz, who was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven homers and 41 RBIs at High Desert, is a switch-hitter who the Indians aren't judging by his numbers. Shapiro called him more of a "projection" player, meaning the Indians see upside in his skill set. "Diaz addresses an area we consistently look to address [in the middle infield]," Shapiro said. "He has a tall, rangy body we feel he needs to grow into. Over time, he can project. He's only 21 and can be an interesting middle-infield alternative."