Indians trade Shin-Soo Choo to Reds
Cleveland traded the talented outfielder to the Cincinnati Reds and acquired prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal involving nine players.
"This is a trade that can impact our team not only for 2013, but for the future," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Three of the players we acquired we will have under control for at least the next three seasons."
Cleveland shipped Choo, infielder Jason Donald and about $3.5 million to the Reds, while sending left-handed reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona.
The Diamondbacks also received shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.
Choo, who has been Cleveland's primary right fielder since 2006, will play center and bat leadoff for Cincinnati.
"It was very difficult giving up home-grown talent, but we think Choo can fill the missing parts in our lineup both offensively and defensively," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. "He is an exciting player, and we expect him to set the table."
Dealing Choo was almost a necessity for the Indians. He was entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for free agency in 2013. The Indians have not been able to work out a deal with agent Scott Boras, who has turned down several extensions in recent years.
The 30-year-old Choo batted .283 with 16 homers and 67 RBIs in 155 games last season. He had been considered a core player for the Indians, who collapsed in August and finished finished 68-94 - two games out of last place in the AL Central.
"It was really tough," Antonetti said of trading Choo. "I talked with Shin-Soo tonight and expressed my profound appreciation for his professionalism. He is always one of the first to arrive for workouts, whether it is spring training or just a game."
With plenty of power in the middle of the lineup, Cincinnati has lacked a prototypical leadoff man to get on base consistently in front of sluggers such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier. Brandon Phillips, who previously batted cleanup at times, was pressed into leadoff duty last season despite a .322 career on-base percentage.
Choo can also hit the ball out of the ballpark, but his .381 career OBP fits the bill at the top of the order. He also had 43 doubles and 21 steals this year.
The speedy Stubbs has played center exclusively for the Reds, helping them win NL Central titles in 2010 and 2012. He batted .213 with 14 homers and 40 RBIs last season, striking out 166 times in 493 at-bats. He has 100 stolen bases over the past three years, including 30 in 2012.
Antonetti said the team hasn't decided where Stubbs will play. Michael Brantley played center for the Indians last season, but has also spent some time in left.
"In Drew Stubbs, we received a great defensive player who brings an element of speed and power to our lineup," Antonetti said. "We are happy with the job Michael Brantley did for us in center field, but Drew is one of the best out there. He brings a great deal of athleticism to our team."
Bauer, one of baseball's top pitching prospects, became the first member of the 2011 draft class to reach the majors and went 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts for Arizona this year. The 21-year-old right-hander struggled with his control, compiling 13 walks and 17 strikeouts in 16 1-3 innings.
Bauer spent most of the season in the minors, going a combined 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. He had 157 strikeouts and 61 walks while allowing 107 hits in 130 1-3 innings.
"We are getting a young pitcher with a ton of potential," Antonetti said. "He can be a top-of-the-rotation guy with development. He is somebody we have been interested in for a long time, since he was at UCLA."
Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said he was sorry to part with Bauer, but "we're fortunate to have a lot of pitching depth."
The 22-year-old Gregorius, considered a defensive whiz, spent last season with Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville before appearing in eight games for the Reds. He hit a combined .265 with seven homers and 54 RBIs in 129 minor league games, adding 21 doubles and 11 triples while scoring 70 runs.
The Diamondbacks have been looking for a shortstop to replace Stephen Drew, traded to Oakland in August after returning from a serious ankle injury. They were thought to be interested in Indians All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera, though Towers wouldn't comment on that.
Towers said Gregorius reminds him "of a young Derek Jeter." Gregorius will go to spring camp and compete for the starting job in the big leagues.
Arizona completed a $15.5 million, two-year contract with right-hander Brandon McCarthy on Tuesday and also acquired reliever Heath Bell from Miami earlier this offseason. Towers said those additions make it "highly unlikely" the team will trade slugger Justin Upton.