Winners and Losers of Reds-Indians-Diamondbacks 3-Team Trade
During MLB's winter meetings last week, rumors of a three- or four-team trade buzzed throughout the Opryland complex. But no deal was consummated.
Since baseball's annual December pow-wow ended, however, we've seen plenty of action on the free-agent and trade markets. That continued with a three-way deal Tuesday between the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks featuring outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, pitcher Trevor Bauer and shortstop Didi Gregorius.
With the multi-team trade, the Reds now have a leadoff hitter (and possibly a center fielder), the Indians have a potential ace starting pitcher and the D-Backs got the shortstop that has taken nearly five months to find.
But which team came out as a winner from this deal and who looks like a loser?
The argument could be made that all three teams did well in this trade, but upon a closer look, that may not quite be the case. Also, which team not involved in the three-way action ended up losing the day? Here's how we see it.
Winner: Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians get one of the top pitching prospects in MLB with Bauer. The quirky right-hander could be a future ace for the Tribe, someone to build its pitching staff around.
The Indians' outfield defense also improves with the addition of Drew Stubbs, who can be the team's regular left fielder and brings 30 stolen bases to the lineup. He also won't have the pressure of being a leadoff hitter in Cleveland, a role he wasn't suited for in Cincinnati.
Cleveland's bullpen also gets better with this deal by adding Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw, while also getting rid of Tony Sipp. Shaw could be the Indians' closer if the team decides to trade Chris Perez during this offseason or at some point next season.
Best of all, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti accomplished all of this without having to trade shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
With right field now open after trading Choo, the Tribe has a place for Nick Swisher if he's willing to sign with Cleveland.
Loser: Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers got the shortstop he's been looking for, but it's not Cabrera, Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. (Towers reportedly also coveted Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but the Braves weren't going to trade him.)
Gregorius is a promising shortstop prospect and could very well be the D-Backs' shortstop of the future. But wasn't the idea to get someone who could start in the majors next season?
Perhaps Gregorius will be that guy, though his minor league numbers indicate he should probably begin next year at Triple-A Reno. Any of the other shortstops Arizona was pursuing would have been the team's starter in 2013.
Will Cliff Pennington, John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist give the D-Backs a solid shortstop through sheer numbers? Can they give Arizona production from the position until Gregorius is ready?
This deal also arguably weakens the D-Backs bullpen with Albers and Shaw going to Cleveland and Arizona getting Sipp in return. Here's hoping Heath Bell can turn himself around from a terrible 2012 season.
Winner: Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds' biggest need going into this offseason was a true leadoff hitter and center fielder.
Michael Bourn or Angel Pagan would have been a great fit, but both free agents were out of the Reds' price range.
With Choo, Cincinnati gets a batter who won't just be a slap hitter and stolen-base threat at the top of the order. He can provide 20 home runs and 80 RBI—impressive run production from the leadoff spot.
Choo's on-base percentage was .373 last year. In three of his major league seasons, from 2008 to 2010, his OBP was at or near .400. He'll supply plenty of scoring opportunities for the big bats in the Reds lineup like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce.
This is a "win now" move for the Reds, as Choo will be a free agent after the season. With Billy Hamilton being groomed as the center fielder of the future, this will probably be a one-year stay in Cincinnati for Choo. Everyone involved surely wants to make it count.
The Reds also get a valuable utility player in Jason Donald, someone who can fill in at third base, shortstop and second base, if needed.
Loser: Reds Outfield Defense
The big question with the Cincinnati Reds and Choo is whether or not the 30-year-old outfielder is capable of being the center field regular.
That's the expectation for Choo next season, but Choo has only played 10 games in center during his eight-year MLB career. As Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi points out, Choo was given a shot in center during his two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. However, the experiment didn't last very long.
Balls hit into the outfield gaps could become adventures at Great American Ball Park next season. All of the Reds pitchers may have to keep the ball down and get ground-ball outs as Johnny Cueto does.
Winner: Didi Gregorius
Gregorius goes from an organization where he was blocked at shortstop by Zack Cozart to one where he could be a starting major league shortstop next season.
Cozart was impressive enough for the Cincinnati Reds that the position is likely his for years to come. If speedster prospect Hamilton was moved from shortstop to center field to get him to the majors more quickly, what chance did Gregorius have to break through in Cincinnati?
Gregorius has a chance to win the starting job in Arizona next season. However, he hit .243 with a .288 on-base percentage in 48 games with Triple-A Louisville this year, demonstrating that he probably needs more seasoning in the minors.
But Towers obviously projects Gregorius to be the D-Backs' starting shortstop soon. He has stopgaps in Pennington, McDonald and Bloomquist, but the hope is surely that Gregorius is the starter by midseason.
Loser: Trevor Bauer
How much had Bauer's stock fallen with the Arizona Diamondbacks?
Bauer went into this season as a top NL Rookie of the Year candidate and blazed through Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. It was only a matter of time before he was a major factor in the D-Backs rotation.
But Bauer struggled after being called up mid-June. He compiled a 6.06 ERA in four starts, hardly the sort of performance most everyone—especially the D-Backs—expected from him.
Bauer showed strikeout stuff, punching out 17 batters in 16.1 innings. But he also issued 13 walks, showing he had plenty of work to do with his location and control.
Worst of all, reports began to circulate that the 21-year-old right-hander had "fallen out of favor" with some in the D-Backs organization, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Bauer's distinct pitching delivery was something he worked hard to develop (as detailed in a Baseball America piece), and the rumblings were that he didn't respond very well to coaching and suggestions to make changes to his motion.
Bleacher Report's prospects lead writer Mike Rosenbaum also indicated that Bauer had changed his approach, not attacking hitters and trying to be too fine with his pitches.
However, those sound like the sort of issues that can be changed with good coaching. A change of scenery and a new set of coaches with the Indians could be what the youngster needs.
Winner: Justin Upton
Putting Justin Upton on the trade block seemed to be a favorite hobby of Towers.
Whether at the trade deadline or during the offseason, trade rumors have frequently swirled around the 24-year-old outfielder.
Towers hoped to get a shortstop in return for Upton, but was rebuffed by the Texas Rangers for Andrus or Profar, the Atlanta Braves wouldn't give up Simmons, and the D-Backs couldn't work out a deal for Cabrera.
But with this three-way trade, Towers now has his shortstop in Gregorius. And he was acquired without giving up Upton.
Unless Towers just flat-out doesn't like Upton, the trade rumors should end. The D-Backs couldn't find what they wanted for him in trade and can now keep a player who has MVP potential and is under club control for three more years and will cost less than an equivalent player in free agency.
With Upton's future in Arizona presumably more assured, perhaps he'll undergo a turnaround next season and become the star many expect him to be.
Loser: Texas Rangers
If the Arizona Diamondbacks intend to hold on to Upton, that means he won't be going to the Texas Rangers in a trade.
This hasn't been a good offseason for the Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels.
The team lost out on Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mike Napoli signed with the Boston Red Sox (though, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, that deal appears to have stalled, perhaps because of a physical). And now, it appears they will not be getting Upton.
It's a good thing Josh Hamilton is still out there. Maybe he and the Rangers will reunite after all. The market for Hamilton has certainly worked out in Texas' favor. Would it be considered "settling" to sign the top free-agent hitter available?
Time will tell if Daniels made the right decision by holding on to shortstops Andrus and Profar. Will the Rangers be a better team with both in the middle infield and Ian Kinsler relocated to first base or the outfield? Or would this have been a better lineup with Upton in right field?
In addition to Hamilton, there are still hitters such as Swisher and Michael Bourn available. Pitchers like Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson are out there as well.
But striking out on Upton could be a big whiff.
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