Shin-Shoo Choo was an integral part of the Cleveland Indians offense for the better part of 6+ seasons. That’s all gone now as the Indians traded Choo to the Cincinnati Reds in a 3-team deal also involving the Arizona Diamondbacks. Let’s analyze all the players involved to figure out whether this was a good trade for the Indians.
The Reds get immediate help for the coming year in Choo, who brings a .292 average in his years in Cleveland, 20 home run power and 20 stolen base legs to a Reds team who won 97 games and finished first in the National League Central division in 2012.
The Reds also received utility infielder Jason Donald, who takes the place of Wilson Valdez, who became a free agent a month ago.
The Diamondbacks got highly-touted shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius from the Reds. Gregorius is known more for his glove (.980 fielding percentage in 42 games at AAA Louisville and 0 errors in 46 innings played with the Reds) than his bat (.243 / 6 / 23 in 185 at-bats at AAA Louisville). Gregorius will probably spend 2013 at AAA as Willie Bloomquist finishes his tour with Arizona at shortstop. Look for Gregorius to be called up, though, if Bloomquist has a sub-par year or gets hurt.
The Diamondbacks also received lefty reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson from the Indians. Sipp had a down year for the Indians in 2012 going 1-2 with a 4.42 ERA and 1 Save in 63 games. He had a stellar 2011, though, and a move to the National League should suit him well.
Lars Anderson is a left-handed hitter who has had up and down years in the minors. He has power and is extremely patient at the plate, averaging a walk every other game in the minors. Lars has yet to show that he can handle major league pitching so it’ll be interesting to see what Arizona does with him.
Now the Indians.
The centerpiece of the deal was RHP Trevor Bauer, Arizona’s first round pick in 2011 and, arguably, their best prospect. Bauer went 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts for AAA Reno in the Pacific Coast League, a notorious hitter’s league. If only the Indians didn’t trade Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians would have 3 young first round picks in their starting rotation for 2013.
As it is, the Indians will have Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Bauer as their front 3 starters for 2013. The contenders for the next 2 spots include Zach McAllister, Jeanmar Gomez, Corey Kluber and David Huff. Huff may have an inside track being the only lefty in the bunch. He’s a low first round pick and has been pitching better with each year.
The Indians also received RH relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. Shaw is younger and seems to be the better of the two, statistically, but having two more arms in an already strong bullpen can’t hurt. The Indians do seem short on lefties in the bullpen and look like they will be relying on Nick Hagadone as their lefty barring any free agent signings.
From the Reds, the Indians received Drew Stubbs. Stubbs figures to start in center field but I can’t see him in the lead-off spot. With a 3-to-1 K/BB ratio and a career .312 OBP, which doesn’t even crack the top 1000 among career leaders, he’ll probably bat down in the order. Probably 9th. Stubbs’ average has seen a decline in each year since his debut in 2009, culminating in a .213 average in 2012, so let’s hope he has a bounce-back year.
Of course, it will be years before we can accurately determine who got the better of this trade.
Choo will be a free agent at year’s end. If the Reds can’t sign him long term and he leaves, will it have been worth giving up Gregorius? Even if Choo and the Reds can go all the way and bring a championship to Cincinnati in 2013?
Will Didi Gregorius turn into an All-Star shortstop for Arizona? Will losing Bauer hurt Arizona’s pitching future?
Speaking of Trevor Bauer, will his minor league success translate to the majors? Will he become another Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia? Or become Cleveland’s version of Tim Lincecum?
No matter what happens, the next few years should be very interesting to watch as it unfolds for all of these players and for us.