Cincinnati Reds get: OF Shin-Soo Choo, IF Jason Donald
Cleveland Indians get: SP Trevor Bauer, RP Matt Albers, RP Bryan Shaw, OF Drew Stubbs
Arizona Diamondbacks get: SS Didi Gregorius, RP Tony Sipp, 1B Lars Anderson
In the second major transaction of the night, the Reds may have gotten the final piece to their championship puzzle in outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, while the Indians bolstered their team for the future and the Diamondbacks...did something.
Just two months ago, the Reds were on the precipice of eliminating the future World Series champion Giants with a commanding 3-1 lead at home. However, their offense scuttled in games 4 and 5, as Cincy's first two hitters in their line-up scored one combined run in 18 at-bats. In fact, both SS Zack Cozart and 2B Brandon Phillips managed to plate only 3 runs the entire series, which isn't so strange when you consider that Reds top two leadoff hitters all season hit to a below .650 OPS overall and had a nearly 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio. In other words, Cincy's 3-8 hitters were so good that even without placesetters, they were able to score the 9th most runs in the Majors. Amazing.
With a rock solid bullpen (with or without Aroldis Chapman, who may be converted to a starter), a devastating rotation led by Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto and a young, versatile line-up of mashers that only had a one-legged Joey Votto last season, the Reds' sole weakness was a leadoff hitting corps who were more comparable to Endy Chavez than Tim Raines. In many ways, Shin-Soo Choo allays that problem.
After a down 2011, the South Korean wonder returned to his all-world ways, hitting to a .815 OPS, with a .373 OPB, 21 steals and 16 homers in 155 games. He's the solid, leadoff hitting center fielder that the Reds always wanted former first rounder Drew Stubbs to turn into, but never could. Shin Stubbs-Choo should slot in nicely in front of a lethal Cincy line-up that's only getting better with an emerging Todd Frazier with a full year at third base, and a trio of All-Stars in Votto, Phillips and Jay Bruce behind him.
The Reds did give up some talent here, including Gregorious, a Dutch shortstop with a fantastic glove and arm, but a questionable bat. Cincy already has that on the field in a 27 year-old Zack Cozart, who rates as a positive fielder according to fangraphs.com, so for the time being, they're not really losing much. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said that he sees a lot of "Derek Jeter in Gregorius", which is a pretty intense statement, to say the least. Stubbs has regressed the past three seasons (.773, .686, .610 OPS, 22, 15, 14 HR, .255, .243, .213 AVG) and just isn't showing signs that he'll ever have the plate discipline to match his tantalizing mix of speed and power.
Cincinnati's not on the clock here, seeing as Latos and Cueto still have multiple years left on their rookie deals and the core of their offense is locked up for many seasons to come. However, the Reds needed a solution at leadoff hitter if they expected to get past a hyper-competitive NL Central division in 2013, as evidenced by a first round bouncing by the Gigantes by getting very little run production out of their 1 and 2 hitters. The biggest downside to trading for Choo is that he'll be a free agent in just one year's time, but for the Reds, the window to win is now. They had to make this deal.
For the Indians, the motivation was clear--Trevor Bauer. The former UCLA Bruin was Arizona's number one prospect and one of the very best in baseball. As a former first round pick, Bauer's pedigree is vast, highlighted by a ridiculous 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors last season. However, he's had control problems all throughout his career, walking 4 batters per nine innings in every professional stop he's made. That's all moot though--he'll be 22 in January, has six years left on his rookie deal and oh yeah, he's 22 years old. The Indians got a hell of a prospect here for one year of Choo, reliever Sipp and a bit of a wash-out prospect in Anderson. Stubbs is certainly still a major league player, but he's more of an addendum to Bauer.
On Arizona's side, I really don't know what they were thinking. Gregorius gives them the shortstop they don't have anywhere close to big show ready, but I'm not sure that him, nor Sipp nor Anderson are worth what Bauer could have potentially given them in 2013 or 2014. At this point I'm pretty stunned that the D-Backs got so little in return for such a blue chip prospect, especially in light of the fact that I'm not sure Gregorius will be their opening day shortstop. Perhaps Arizona doesn't think that they'll be able to compete this year with the Giants and conscience-less free-spending Dodgers, but even that logic doesn't apply seeing as the team just jettisoned a 21 year-old first rounder. Towers' comments likening Gregorius to a young DJ makes sense from their end, but if that was the case, I can't imagine anyone letting a player with that type of comparison go, no matter what the prize. A head scratcher, to say the least.
The Reds, if they weren't already, should now be the prohibitive favorites amongst the field to de-throne the Giants in 2013. They were missing one component last year, and they traded for one of the best solutions possible to try and win now. A risky move considering Choo's free agency in 12 months, but a great gamble.