One year removed from playing in Game 7 of the ALCS, underachieving performances and four core players going on the DL have landed the Cleveland Indians in last place. Facing the harsh reality they will not be a contender this season, the Indians traded a reigning Cy Young Award winner Monday.

General Manager Mark Shapiro’s well-founded expectations for the 2008 Indians will not be met.

One year removed from playing in Game 7 of the ALCS, underachieving performances and four core players going on the DL have landed the team in last place.

Facing the harsh reality they will not be a contender this season, the Indians traded a reigning Cy Young Award winner Monday.

CC Sabathia was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for four minor-league prospects, most notably outfielder Matt LaPorta. The Indians also will receive pitchers Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson and a player to be named for the big left-hander, who will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Sabathia turned down a four-year, $72 million offer from the Indians during spring training and said he would not negotiate a new deal until the offseason.

“We felt we thoroughly explored our intention with CC in spring training,” Shapiro said. “CC made it clear that once the season started he did not want to entertain any negotiations. In addition to that, our exploration of a contract in spring training was thorough enough to understand the combination of our capabilities and CC’s expectations didn’t align.

“It was a very difficult decision emotionally. But weighing the potential of playing this out to the end, receiving two draft picks if he signed elsewhere ... with the uncertainty that exists with draft picks like that and the realization those are three to five years away from impacting our big league team, we thought it was important and essential to at least explore trade alternatives.”

Shapiro held talks with seven teams about Sabathia during the past few weeks. With the trade deadline still 3 1/2 weeks away, there was no urgency to consummate a deal right away. But there was no guarantee of a better package of prospects if the Indians held out for more.

Intense negotiations took place over the last three to five days with the Brewers emerging as the rumored frontrunner during the weekend.

“There were teams involved that clearly expressed the value was greater now than it would be two weeks from now, if they would be interested at all two weeks from now,” Shapiro said. “We made a trade that we feel in the current market would be of great value.”

LaPorta, who will play at Double-A Akron, was rated by Baseball America as the top prospect and best power-hitting prospect in the Brewers organization. He hit .288 with a league-leading 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Huntsville in the Southern League.

“He’s a guy we feel has a chance to be a core player for us going forward,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro said the Indians negotiated a player to be named into the trade. The team will have until the end of the major league season to make the selection. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, it may end up being third baseman Taylor Green, the Brewers’ 2007 minor league player of the year.

Sabathia went 106-71 in eight seasons with the Indians. His 1,265 strikeouts are the fifth most in team history.

He goes from a team with one of the worst records in the majors to one in the hunt for its first playoff berth in 26 years. The Brewers went into Monday tied for the National League wild card lead and were just 3 1/2 games behind first place Chicago in the NL Central.

“I’d say we’re going for it,” Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin said during a news conference in Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, the Indians head to Detroit for a series with the Tigers facing life without their ace. It won’t be smooth initially, especially with Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez still out with injuries.

Shapiro, though, reiterated the team is not in a rebuild phase.

“A lot of those things that are going wrong, some of them will turn around on their own, some will turn around with health and some will turn around with player personnel decisions,” Shapiro said. “It was not long ago when we were on our way to 96 wins and a bulk of that talent is still here.

“But good times are coming ahead. And I really firmly feel this team has a chance to come back out next year and contend.”

Reach Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail mike.popovich@cantonrep.com

By the numbers

Career stats

W  L  ERA  GS  CG  SHO  IP  H  R  ER  BB  SO
106  71  3.83  237  19  7  1,528.2  1,435 700 650 498 1,265

2008 stats

W    L    ERA    GS    CG    SHO    IP    H    R    ER    BB    SO
6    8    3.83    18    3    2    122.1    117    54    52    34    123

About Sabathia

- Last start as an Indian came Wednesday, allowing five runs (four earned) and seven hits in eight innings at Chicago.

- 2007 American League Cy Young, becoming just the second Indian to win the award (Gaylord Perry, 1972).

- Most career wins by any current pitcher under the age of 28.

- Three-time All-Star.

- Second most career wins by a left-hander in Indians history (Sam McDowell, 122).

- Fifth on Indians’ all-time strikeout list with 1,265 Ks.

- First Indian since 1957 to put together seven straight seasons of 10 or more wins; second to ever do so in his first seven seasons.

- Led majors in innings pitched (241) in 2007, becoming first Indian to do so since Bob Feller in 1947.

- Put together the second best strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.65) by a left-hander in major league history in 2007 (Randy Johnson, 6.59, 2004)

- Youngest pitcher (27 years, 69 days) to reach 100 career wins since Greg Maddux in 1993.

- Youngest left-hander to 1,000 career strikeouts since Fernando Valenzuela in 1985.

- First Tribe rookie since Gene Bearden (20-7) in 1948 to win 17 or more games, going 17-5.

- Named AL rookie pitcher of the year and second in balloting to Ichiro
Suziki for the overall AL rookie of the year in 2001.

- Debuted in the majors as a 20-year-old rookie on April 8, 2001, throwing 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Baltimore.

- 20th overall pick of the 1998 draft.

The prospects

A look at the three prospects the Cleveland Indians acquired from the
Milwaukee Brewers in Monday’s trade for reigning Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia.

MATT LAPORTA, OF

- Hit .288 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 84 games this season for Double-A Huntsville in the Southern League.

- Selected to play in Sunday’s Futures Game at Yankee Stadium and one of 60 players being considered for the 24-man United States Olympic team.

- Chosen by the Brewers in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

- Two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year at the University of Florida.

- Rated the top prospect and best power hitting prospect in the Brewers organization and the 23rd best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America entering the 2008 season.

- Will report to Double-A Akron.

ROB BRYSON, RHP

- Went 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA with five saves in 22 games (five starts) this season for Single-A West Virginia in the South Atlantic League.

- Struck out 73 in 55 innings pitched while limiting hitters to a .209 average.

- Signed by the Brewers last year as a draft and follow pick from the 2006 draft (31st round). Drafted out of Penn High School in New Castle, Del.

- Will be assigned to Single-A Lake County.

ZACH JACKSON, LHP

- Was 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA in 22 games (six starts) this season for Triple-A Nashville in the Pacific Coast League.

- Allowed five hits and two runs (one earned) in 3 2/3 innings in two appearances with the Brewers in May.

- Owns a 2-2 record with a 5.36 ERA in 10 career Major League games.

- Acquired by Milwaukee from Toronto in 2005 for 1B Lyle Overbay.

- Owns a 2-2 record with a 5.36 ERA in 10 career Major League games.

- Will report to Triple-A Buffalo.