By: T.J. Zuppe
With several Cleveland Indians potentially on the trading block this off-season, we will take a look at a handful of the players that could be on the move this winter. Today, we look at the pros and cons of the Tribe looking to deal outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Reasons to deal Choo:
· With Choo’s agent Scott Boras in the mix, it is likely the Tribe’s right-fielder will not be in an Indians’ uniform beyond 2013, his final season under Cleveland's control.
· GM Chris Antonetti could deal him now rather than risking him walking away at the end of ’13 at the price of acquiring an extra draft pick as compensation.
· Choo is coming off a decent comeback season. He was able to bounce between the lead-off and three slot in the order, proving he can provide a manager with flexibility in where he hits in the order. He can easily slide into any lineup and hit in any spot in the order.
· His increasing difficulty to hit left-handers leaves some wondering if he’s worth the type of money he will ask for. While he crushed righties (.327 / .403 / .523), Choo was owned by lefties (.199 / .318 / .605) during the 2012 season. While certainly one of the best Indians hitters, his worth is limited by his poor splits.
· The goal this off-season should be to acquire young talent. Choo is one of Antonetti’s biggest assets in looking to accomplish that goal. Now at 30 years old, he is just a bit older than the age range of the Tribe's young core.
Reasons to keep Choo:
· Antonetti could hold off until the trade deadline to assess where his club is at. He could move Choo at the trade deadline to a club desperately looking to add some offensive fire power.
· Seemed to find a niche hitting out of the lead-off spot in 2012. As the number hitter in the order, Choo hit .312 with a .389 on-base percentage. Right now, the Indians do not have a true lead-off hitter and Choo is the closest thing they have got.
· Even factoring in his less-than-stellar 2011 campaign, Choo has been the most consistent hitter Cleveland has had since 2008. In those five seasons, Choo is hitting .291, averaging 16 homers and 69 RBI per season. If the Indians intend to contend in ’13, they will need more of the same from their right-fielder.
· New Indians manager Terry Francona has stressed many times the three biggest holes his new club has; left-field, first-base and DH. Trading Choo would create yet another hole in Francona’s every day lineup.
· With Choo’s impending free-agency breathing down their neck, the Tribe’s brass should move their right-fielder this off-season, capitalizing on more clubs looking to improve their teams. If Antonetti holds off until the trade deadline, he will be limiting his potential destinations. With more teams in the mix, the price goes up. Simple supply and demand. For that reason, it makes sense to trade Choo now while the price is at its peak.
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