According to Tom Withers of The Associated Press (h/t Yahoo! Sports), the Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks finally finished a three-team deal, but it wasn’t with the Rangers and didn’t involve Justin Upton or Asdrubal Cabrera.
In all, there are nine players moving. Each team’s haul follows with the sending team in parentheses:
Reds: Shin-Soo Choo (Indians), Jason Donald (Indians)
Indians: Trevor Bauer (Diamondbacks), Drew Stubbs (Reds), Bryan Shaw (Diamondbacks), Matt Albers (Diamondbacks)
Diamondbacks: Didi Gregorius (Reds), Tony Sipp (Indians), Lars Anderson (Indians)
There are two really interesting parts to this. The first is Choo with the Reds. Cincinnati is now without a true center fielder, but the offensive help is probably more than enough to make up for it. Reds leadoff hitters had an abysmal .208/.254/.327 triple slash last year.
Choo, entering his age-30 season, had a slash line of .283/.373/.441 last season and has had a line as good as .300/.401/.484 in the past (as recently as 2010, too). This is a huge upgrade for them. Even though Choo is a free agent after this year, it’s more than made up for by the fact that the Reds didn’t even surrender the best prospect in the deal.
The Indians, I would say, also won. Granted, they don’t get the certainty of Choo for 2012, but he was leaving next year, while Bauer gives them the better opportunity to win going forward. The starter just finished his age-21 season, and while his first four starts weren’t ideal, there’s a lot of hope for the future.
The 2011 No. 3 pick threw 130.1 innings in AA and AAA last year and picked up 157 strikeouts while allowing a 2.42 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Keith Law (h/t SB Nation) listed him as the No. 21 best prospect before 2012 and has been projected as an ace. He may be ready to start this season and provides Cleveland with a lot of upside.
The Diamondbacks are the only team that confuses me. Yes, they had a pitching surplus. But most teams were still very high on Bauer’s potential. For someone who was rated so highly, this is a weak looking return.
Gregorius is a strong-fielding shortstop who can’t hit; his minor league career has seen him have a slash line of .271/.323/.376. Yes, he’s only 22, but minor league OBPs below .330 are not anything to get excited about.
Sipp is a 29-year old reliever who hasn’t shown himself to be extraordinarily dominant. Anderson is a former well regarded prospect who’s now 25 and only has 56 plate appearances in the majors. In AAA last year, he had a line of .250/.353/.396, which wouldn’t be bad if he played up the middle.
Instead, he’s a first baseman. Maybe he can put it all together, but he won’t be getting a shot in Arizona with Paul Goldschmidt there now. None of those players looks good enough to justify giving up a prospect like Trevor Bauer.
As for the other four other players other than Choo that are headed to the two Ohio teams, most are closer to spare parts. Matt Albers is a 29-year-old reliever with a career 94 ERA+. Shaw is a 25-year-old reliever with fewer than 90 innings in the majors. He’s carried a 129 ERA+ so far, and he looks most likely to be a decent middle reliever if nothing else. Donald is a below-average hitting utility man.
Stubbs is the only other player with any sort of serious value, and that’s more of a possibility than a certainty.
His batting average on balls in play was a career low last year (.290), and if it bounces back up to his career .323 mark, he’ll provide league average offense and a solid glove in center field, making him slightly above starter level. He’s 28, so he’s still fairly young, but he’s probably more of a useful part than an all-star.
So, the long and short of it: The Reds made a smart all-in move to compete next year. The Indians got a great prospect to maximize their possible future winning, and the Diamondbacks got involved for reasons that are not clear to me.
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