We continue our review of the Cleveland Indians‘ off-season with the three-team trade involving the Indians, the Cincinnati Reds and the Arizona Diamondbacks which resulted in Shin-Soo Choo leaving town.
What the Indians Gave Up:
Shin-Soo Choo, OF (to Cincinnati) - Choo is a 2.5 to 3 WAR player who has a great bat, but a suspect glove. The Reds will make due with below average defense if they put Choo in center field. The Indians made this trade with the idea that they would be able to replace Choo, which they did with the signing of Nick Swisher.
Jason Donald, IF (to Cincinnati) - Donald was a mid-level prospect who has not lived up to expectations. He is basically a replacement player at this point, and can be a utility player with limited upside.
Tony Sipp, LHP (to Arizona) - Sipp’s velocity has dropped a little bit in the last four years, but this isn’t an alarming trend. He does leave a hole in the bullpen since the Indians do not have proven left-handed pitching in the bullpen at the moment.
Lars Anderson, 1B (to Arizona) - The Indians have a surplus of quadruple-A first basemen and probably won’t miss Anderson.
What the Indians received:
Trevor Bauer, RHP (from Arizona) - This is the type of pitcher the Indians needed to acquire, especially after last year’s Ubaldo Jimenez trade. Bauer was the third pick in the 2011 draft and quickly moved up the ladder and pitched in the majors last year. He needs to work on pitch sequencing and his command to become a legitimate mid-rotation starter with a chance of becoming a #1 or #2 starter. There are rumors that Bauer clashed with coaches in Arizona because he uses different training techniques and was not always receptive to the game plans that were prepared for him. I think with a coaching staff headed by Terry Francona, Bauer will adapt and will become an excellent starter for the Indians in the next two to three years. What makes Bauer more attractive to the Indians is that he is under club control for six years.
Drew Stubbs, CF (from Cincinnati) - Stubbs is entering his age-28 season and has a reputation as an excellent defensive center fielder but has major contact problems at the plate. He was between a 1 win and replacement player, depending on which WAR model you use. He has a bit of power with 14 HR’s in 2012, but strikes out way too much and has had very low OBP’s in his career. If his defense continues to be strong in center, then 3 more years of club control for Stubbs is an asset. This also helps the outfield defense overall if Stubbs can hit enough to stay in the lineup because Michael Brantley is a good defensive left fielder.
Matt Albers, RHP (from Arizona) - Albers had a strong 2012 and is now entering his age-30 season. He is a three-pitch pitcher and relies mostly on his fastball. He has good velocity, especially on his sinker and should slot into a 7th or even 8th inning role with the Indians depending on what happens with Chris Perez.
Bryan Shaw, RHP (from Arizona) - Shaw is entering his age-25 season and should be a middle reliever for the Indians, maybe even in an 8th inning role if Chris Perez is traded.
In summary, 6 years of control of Bauer and 3 years of control of Stubbs makes this the right type of return for Choo, who will be a free agent after this season.