The Cleveland Indians have plenty of decisions to make this off-season. Two straight seasons of hope at the All-Star break have both resulted in second half collapses by the Tribe, with the 2012 Post-All Star break failures finally resulting in change.
Manager Manny Acta was relieved of his duties with six games remaining, after the team struggled in the second half, including a 5-24 record in August, the worst month the team ever had in their 112-year history. Cleveland was in contention in late-July, sitting only 3 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Unlike 2011, the Indians failed to make any significant moves at the trade deadline (Brent Lillibridge was surely not going to be the answer to any of the problems).
General manager Chris Antonetti learned a tough lesson from the 2011 deadline. With a 53-52 record on July 31st, and only 2 1/2 games behind the Tigers for first in the Central, Antonetti went out and pulled the trigger on a five player deal sending four prospects, including pitcher Drew Pomeranz, to the Colorado Rockies for pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez .
Jimenez has turned out to be a major disappointment, posting only nine wins in 2012 with a 5.40 ERA, 5.06 FIP and 4.98 xFIP. After posting a 6.7 fWAR for the Rockies in 2010, he became a 0.2 fWAR player in a matter of years. You can’t blame Antonetti for trying to acquire help at the deadline. The Indians had failed to reach the post season since the 2007 season, but looking back, it’s fair to say the trade didn’t help, in fact, it hurt the team. Arguably, the Indians would probably be better off with Pomeranz (4.93 ERA, 4.81 FIP, 4.49 xFIP in 22 starts with the Rockies in 2012) on the roster heading into next season rather than Jimenez.
We know the Indians will have a different look on and off the field in 2013. They took care of the vacant managerial position with the hiring of Terry Francona fairly quickly after the season ended, but when it comes to player movement, the one name that keeps coming up in trade rumours is outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Paul Hoynes of the The Plain Dealer thinks it’s only a matter of time before Choo becomes a former member of the Indians, and to his credit, he’s bang on. The question of when and not if he gets dealt is now reality for Indians fans, but where will he go, and what will the Indians get in return.
Choo, who has reportedly rejected multiple contract extensions with the Indians, is arbitration eligible, and according to mlbtraderumours.com, could make $7.9 million in 2013. Since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in July of 2006 for Ben Broussard, Choo has posted a combined fWAR of 18.5 for Cleveland, playing solid defense in right field. He’s never had a season with more than 22 home runs, but he gets on base (top ten in the AL on OBP on three occasions since 2009) making him an attractive all-round player to acquire. He has a career slash line of .289/.381/.465 with 83 career long balls and 85 stolen bases.
The Indians can deal him now, wait until the July 31st deadline in 2013, or wait this all out until after the 2013 season, when they could give him a qualifying offer, and if he accepts, would receive a draft pick. With starter Justin Masterson and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera also rumoured to be on the block, don’t be surprised if trading Choo is on the top of their agenda.
Fans won’t be upset if Choo is traded in the near future, as long as the return comes in the form of pitching, something the Indians desperately need.