By: T.J. Zuppe
What Went Down: The Cleveland Indians shocked their fans by finally pulling the trigger on a mega-deal, trading away long-time right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo, infielder Jason Donald, first-baseman Lars Anderson and left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp, while acquiring outfielder Drew Stubbs, middle-relievers Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers and Arizona top-pitching prospect Trevor Bauer. Choo and Donald were shipped to the Cincinnati Reds. Anderson and Sipp were dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
What It Means: The Tribe finally brought what many envisioned would happen to fruition, trading Choo - a man entering the last year of team control before hitting the free-agent market following the 2013 season. Now, the Indians have landed themselves some much-needed depth in their bullpen - what team does not need to add to the pile? - found a guy with athleticism and speed to add to the outfield core in Stubbs - but most importantly - netted themselves a legitimate A+ pitching prospect in Bauer (third overall pick in 2011 draft - 21 years old). If you are going to focus on one thing in the deal, focus on Bauer. (Stop freaking out over Stubbs’s strikeouts. You are missing the boat.) Bauer was the key.
By The Numbers: Bauer spent most of the 2012 season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno where he went a combined 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts. Albers pitched between the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, going a combined 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 63 relief appearances. Shaw spent most of the 2012 season in the Arizona bullpen where he went 1-6 with 2 saves and a 3.49 ERA in 64 appearances. Stubbs hit a career-low .216 with the Reds last season, connecting on 14 home runs and 40 RBI, while stealing 30 bases and playing a strong defensive center-field.
Not Settling: Remember when the Tribe traded two Cy Young Award winners and an all-star catcher for quantity - not quality? That type of thinking got the Indians into a world of hurt over the next few seasons that followed. On Tuesday night, the Tribe front office did not settle. They were able to come away with a stud young starter - goal number one that needed to be achieved if Choo or Asdrubal Cabrera were traded this off-season. True, there are no guarantees when it comes to the word “prospect” but there are certainly good risks. This was a great risk with a huge potential payoff. On top of everything, Antonetti was able to hold on to Cabrera - instead pushing Didi Gregorius to the D-Backs. That will give Antonetti incredible flexibility in the coming weeks.
All of That For One Year? Lost in this was the fact that Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti was able to turn Choo - a player with only one guaranteed year left on his contract - and some random other pieces parts into a 21-year old potential stud pitcher, and three other players with six years of combined control left. For that reason alone, Antonetti should be applauded. Sure, Choo fills a desperate need for the Reds. And Gregorius appears to be the shortstop Arizona was searching for. But for a club needing to shake things up this off-season, they are shaking it up. That is refreshing to see.
Bottom Line: Love every aspect of the deal. And I hardly believe they are ready to pack it on in. Again, refreshing (much-needed) approach.
So What Do You Think? Do you support general manager Chris Antonetti’s decision to trade Choo? Do you think the Tribe got enough? What concerns do you have? Are you sick of the word “prospect?” Let us know by commenting below and sharing your opinion.
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