The Cleveland Indians have made Shin-Soo Choo available, but the asking price for their underrated outfielder is steep. That's forced teams, like the Pittsburgh Pirates, to approach Choo with caution.
FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal reported on Sunday concerning Cleveland's specific demands:
Hearing Price for #Indians' Choo is a major leaguer - a good one - with less than three years service time. Choo free agent after 2013.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2012
It makes sense for the Indians to demand a major league player. Their farm system is depleted, and their current nucleus is young. Adding a piece to their major league roster is the only way for their franchise to justify trading one of their best young hitters, but that doesn't mean the price makes sense for other teams, especially Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have one possible piece that fits the Indians' demands. They could part with prized prospect Starling Marte in exchange for Choo's short-term services. According to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Rob Biertempfel, the Pirates are "very reluctant to include Starling Marte in a deal," and rightfully so.
Marte is hitting .286 with one home run and three RBI in five major league games. It's a small sample size, but he has considerable upside. Not only that, but his tools matchup with Choo's skill set very well. It's not a stretch to say Marte will surpass Choo as a player, and it may not take him long to do so.
Pittsburgh needs a bat. There's no doubt about that, but they can only deal Marte for a bona fide "star" player. Anything less would be reckless and could possibly damage their future in a big way.
Choo isn't a long-term solution. He's arbitration eligible after next season, and there is no guarantee that he would re-sign with the Pirate organization. The idea of dealing Marte's up-and-coming abilities for a questionable long-term option is just absurd.
Choo is a good player. He's hitting .291 this season with 12 home runs and 39 RBI, but you don't know how he would react to a change of scenery. The Pirates have had an outstanding season thus far, but they are still far too fragile to roll the dice on any sort of risk especially if that risk involves one of their young talents.
Neil Huntington needs to be aggressive, but he must be smart at the same time. Choo is a tantalizing option, but the price doesn't fit.