CLEVELAND The Cleveland Indians traded versatile third baseman Casey Blake and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor leaguers on Saturday.
Blake is joining the Dodgers for the playoff push. They're one game behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. Blake, who has also played right and left field, is expected to play third for the Dodgers, who haven't gotten what they needed at the position from rookies Andy LaRoche or Blake DeWitt.
In exchange for Blake, the Indians got catcher Carlos Santana and right-hander Jonathan Meloan. Both players are former Ogden Raptors
The Dodgers (50-52) have been looking for a dependable bat for weeks, and Blake's name first came up when the Dodgers were in trade talks with the Indians for ace CC Sabathia, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Blake is batting .289 with 11 homers and 58 RBIs, and he has been Cleveland's most clutch player, batting .398 with runners in scoring position.
"Casey Blake is a gamer," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season."
When Sabathia was traded, the 34-year-old Blake, who is eligible for free agency following the season, moved into the left-hander's old locker in Cleveland's clubhouse. Now, he's on the move.
Blake brings experience and versatility to the Dodgers. He played the infield and outfield for the disappointing Indians, who signed him as a minor league free agent in 2002. He struggled at the plate with runners in scoring position last year, batting just .190 and was often a target of Indians fans, who never seemed to appreciate his all-around value.
This season, Blake was one of Cleveland's most reliable players. He signed a $6.1 million contract at the start of the season, and the Iowa native has said he would like to finish his career with the Indians.
Cleveland came within one win of the World Series last year and was favored to defend its AL Central title. But costly injuries and underachievement by some of their top players dropped the Indians back in the division and forced general manager Mark Shapiro to begin retooling for the future.
Meloan pitched in five games as a reliever for the Dodgers last season. The club converted him into a starter this year, and the 24-year-old was 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas. The Indians have transferred his option to Triple-A Buffalo, where he will pitch in relief.
Santana, a 22-year-old switch hitter, batted .323 with 14 homers and 96 RBIs at Class-A Inland Empire. He led the California League in RBIs, on-base percentage (.431) and runs (88). Since June 26, he's batting .393 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 28 games.
The Indians said the Dominican Republic native will report to Class-A Kinston.