Choo will be moving southwest in Ohio to Cincinnati this winter.
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays made a huge trade in which RHP James Shields and Wade Davis were sent to the Royals for a package of prospects headlined by OF Wil Myers. The Diamondbacks, Indians and Reds decided to get in on the action today (via Fox Sports). Here's what each team got:
SS Didi Gregorius CIN
1B Lars Anderson CLE
LHP Tony Sipp CLE
OF Shin Soo Choo CLE
UT Jason Donald CLE
OF Drew Stubbs CIN
RHP Trevor Bauer ARI
RHP Bryan Shaw ARI
RHP Matt Albers ARI
Why they did it?
The Diamondbacks did this trade in an attempt to fill their gaping hole at shortstop. Gregorius is a plus defender who knows how to barrel the ball. Only 22 years old, Gregorius is a career .271/.323/.376 hitter in the minor leagues.
While the offensive upside is limited, Gregorius should be able to provide the Diamondbacks at least league average value from the SS position at his peak. While Gregorius is not a huge upside player there is still some development left to be done namely in his approach at the plate.
If his approach continues to improve, then this deal may ultimately be worth it for the Diamondbacks. However if Gregorius ends up producing in the majors at the same level he did in the minors, then Arizona might be looking for a shortstop upgrade again in the near future.
Lars Anderson was a former top prospect with the Boston Red Sox. His stock has fizzled out much like his power has at the upper levels
Who won this trade?
Under the right circumstances Anderson may become a major league contributor as a lefty bat off the bench. Tony Sipp should find a place in the Arizona bullpen in this upcoming season. Historically Arizona GM Kevin Towers has been very successful in building bullpens and Sipp with his power lefty arm should continue to find success in the desert.
Arizona decided it was time to move on from Trevor Bauer after selecting him third overall in the 2011 draft. Bauer has struggled with his command in the desert and should surely benefit from the change of scenery.
The Reds did this trade to plug a hole in their lineup. Choo will be inserted into the top of Cincinnati's order as guy who gets on base. Choo does not fit the traditional model of a leadoff man as he is not a burner but he does have solid speed evidenced by his 21 SB this past season.
Choo also has two 20-plus HR seasons under his belt showcasing that he is more than just a guy who gets on base. After being injured in 2011, Choo bounced back nicely in 2012.
Trading Stubbs has opened up the CF hole and it is presumed that Choo will play there. Defensively that might be quite a bit ambitious. While Choo is a solid defender in RF, the transition to CF could be challenging.
Choo only has one year left on his contract and will be a free agent after the 2013 season. UT Jason Donald will presumably slide into the Miguel Cairo role this year for the Reds. Donald is a solid defender who struggles at the plate. He should be a late inning defensive replacement and be able to spell Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier when needed.
Did the Diamondbacks give up on Bauer too soon?
While Gregorius has potential to be a part of the Reds in the future he would have been blocked in Cincinnati by both Zack Cozart at SS and Brandon Phillips at 2B.
Much like their trades of Alonso and Yasmani Grandal last season, the Reds are supplementing their current core with players who can help them now instead of prospects who may have an adjustment period to the majors. This philosophy has been successful for them so far as they have now landed a top flight starting pitcher (Mat Latos) and a leadoff hitter (Choo) using this method.
The Indians did this trade because they did not feel they could resign Choo after this season. In the interim Cleveland has adequately replaced Choo with Stubbs.
Stubbs had the worst year of his career in 2012 hitting only .213 and his strikeout rate continued to be horrendous, while his OBP dropped heavily. If Stubbs can re-elevate his average into the .240 range, he can be a valuable player due to his plus defense, speed and power. Stubbs is a lottery ticket of sorts for the Indians as he still has three years of team control and will be given every opportunity to figure things out.
The Indians also did well in securing Trevor Bauer from the Diamondbacks. Bauer is a near major league ready pitcher who despite struggling in his brief MLB debut this past season, has enormous top of the rotation upside. The Indians have been unable to develop high end starting pitching in the last decade and Bauer should be able to help fill this void. Bauer does not come without concern however as he needs to throw more strikes.
RHP Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw both figure to be in the middle of the bullpen on next year's Indians team helping build the depth of the unit. Shaw is only 24 and still may have some improvement in him. Albers' recent velocity spike has helped him up his strike out rate. Both will be solid options for the pen next year.
Who won the trade:
For this season, the Reds will most certainly benefit the most from this trade. Shoo is an above average OF that fills a giant hole atop of the Reds lineup. With Shoo atop the Reds lineup, while already formidable, the team might have the best lineup in the NL.
In the long term I believe this trade will benefit the Indians the most. If it is true that the Indians would be unable to resign Choo after the season, they would have only received a draft pick for him. Besides getting Stubbs to start in CF, the team also gets Trevor Bauer who is the real gem of the trade. While Bauer has not had major league success, the possible upside of a No. 2 starter outweighs the possibility of Choo leaving at the end of the year. This is a great return for Choo and an excellent step in the right direction for the team.