July 07, 2008

The Milwaukee Brewers greatly enhanced their postseason chances by completing a blockbuster trade for star left-hander C.C. Sabathia in a deal that will be announced Monday.

The Brewers will send top slugging prospect Matt LaPorta to the Indians, along with minor-league pitchers Zach Jackson and Rob Bryson for Sabathia, SI.com has confirmed. It is believed that a fourth player to be named will also go to Cleveland.

Milwaukee has been viewed as a favorite to land Sabathia because of its superb farm system. LaPorta, a blue-chip prospect who can play a corner outfield spot or first base, has 20 homers, 66 RBIs and a .288 batting average for Double-A Huntsville, Ala.

The youthful and offensively-strong Brewers could also be viewed as a playoff favorite now, as well, thanks to their big new import. The left-handed Sabathia will team with righty Ben Sheets to form an excellent 1-2 pitching punch. Sabathia, the 2007 American League Cy Young winner, is only 6-8 overall with a 3.83 ERA but has an ERA of around 2 since late April.

As a player who's eligible for free agency at year's end, his trade value was diminished somewhat because he seen as a three-month rental (though possibly longer if the Brewers make the playoffs). The Indians sought to acquire players more valuable than the two draft choices Sabathia would have brought had he left as a free agent, and they accomplished that. But now the Brewers will get the benefit of the draft choices, assuming they are not able to sign Sabathia to a contract extension.

Jackson was 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA at Triple-A Nashville. Bryson, who is said to have a very good arm, was 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA at Class-A West Virginia.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported news of the trade, suggested that third baseman Taylor Green, who was hitting .298 at Class-A Brevard County, could be the fourth player to go to Cleveland in the deal.

The Brewers likely feel fortunate to hold onto both third baseman Matt Gamel, who's hitting .374 at Huntsville, and shortstop Alcides Eescobar, who's hitting .324 there. The Indians showed interest in both players.

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