The dominoes in the Indians, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Reds love triangle (square) finally fell tonight with everybody getting a little something they wanted. First, the deal itself:
From Arizona: Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw
From Cincinnati: Drew Stubbs
From Cleveland: Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson
From Cincinnati: Didi Gregorious
From Cleveland: Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald (plus cash)
The Fallout: The Indians essentially traded Choo for Bauer and Stubbs, with the other players involved just to even things out a bit. The Indians really wanted Bauer and the Diamondbacks really wanted a short stop, that much was obvious from the Winter Meetings, despite the teams inability to work out a deal. For the Indians, trading Choo makes a lot more sense than trading Asdrubal Cabrera (who was in the original deal) as Cabrera is signed for an extra season and does not have Scott Boras as his agent. Cabrera is also younger and plays a higher demand position. So, for part one the Indians won by trading Choo and not Cabrera.
Stubbs is a player the Reds have been very high on for years now and has stolen 30 bases in three straight seasons. He also has a little power, hitting 14 or more home runs in each of his three full seasons (something Choo cannot say about his last three seasons). If the Reds truly want to use Choo in centerfield, the Indians definitely got the better of this part of the deal. Defensively, Choo has fallen off a ton in the past two seasons and will suffer strongly with a move to a more strenuous position. Stubbs will look to fit in as the Indians new starting center fielder (and possible lead-off hitter) with Michael Brantley moving back into left field. This leaves the Indians with a hole in the outfield, but it is a different one than before today.
The addition of Mike Aviles early in the offseason made Donald expendable and losing him almost makes the whole deal worthwhile in itself. Anderson is also a throwaway player who was recently acquired from the Red Sox during the tail end of the 2012 season. He was unlikely to ever play for the Indians, making the originaly trade seem pointless, but his addition to this trade inconsequential.
After the removal of Rafael Perez from the roster a week ago, Sipp became the most unpredictable part of the bullpen. To replace him, the Indians acquired two right handed relievers in Albers and Shaw. Both have seen recent success with Arizona and are still relatively young (arbitration eligible) pitchers. Of the two, Shaw looks to have the highest ceiling, though they will both likely be immediately added to the mix in the bullpen.
The real purpose of this trade from the Indians point of view was to shore up a very shaky looking starting rotation with the addition of Trevor Bauer. Bauer was a first round draft pick in 2011 and made his debut last season, pitching in four games. Last season he dominated the Pacific Coast League with a 2.85 ERA in 14 games before being promoted to the big league team. Bauer looks to be immediately added to the rotation, eliminating the doubt as to who the fifth starter will be. All-in-all, the Indians added four major league ready players at the cost of just three, one of whom is a glorified AAA utility man.
One thing that could be lost in the shuffle is that with Choo gone, the Indians have now lost their top five tenured players already this offseason adding up to a total of 39 years with the team. This makes Cabrera the longest tenured Indian at six seasons. While this may not be an official rebuilding, the team that almost made it to the World Series in 2007 has been officially demolished.
Overall this trade looks good for the Indians, but only time will tell. If Choo continues to have injury problems, it will look like the Indians broke the bank. Bauer is the one that holds the results of this trade in his hands the way Matt LaPorta did with the C.C. Sabathia trade. If Bauer can play at a median starter level for the next three or four years, the deal will have been a moderate success. If he can become the ace the Indians need or even a number two, this could be one of the best trades in years. Unlike most trades the Indians make, no prospects came to Cleveland in the deal, so we will know within the next two years whether this was a good move or not.