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Indians Indians Archive Trade Deadline Rundown: Choo Generates Interest As Deadline Nears
Written by Nino Colla

Nino Colla

choo dugoutTwo more days is simply not enough.

If four months wasn't enough, what makes you think two days will be?

Two days and no games. That's what the Indians have left before the annual MLB non-waiver trade deadline passes.

We've seen a few teams declare their intentions by either buying or selling. The Marlins and Brewers made big moves to sell off big pieces to teams that have shown they're ready to contend this year by buying those big said pieces.

The Indians have remained stagnant, but make no mistake about it, so have a lot of other teams. The addition of the extra wild card has kept some teams in the race, but in the Indians case, it isn't so much the wild card they are chasing, it is that ever-changing, but consistently inconsistent AL Central. The White Sox added a third baseman, a starting pitcher and a closer, and while they've looked the most consistent of the three teams, they still can't run away.

The Tigers seemed to have caught fire, until they ran into the Cleveland Indians, who sent them crashing right back down to the world we are living in where the Tigers are a massive disappointment to the masses. 

And then we have our Cleveland Indians, who, to put it as plainly as possible, just can't put together a stretch to help them make a decision.

The Indians were here last year, they were in this position and they bought. But they didn't just buy for 2011, they bought for beyond. Which seems to be the position they are in now. Before you read another word, perhaps you should brush up on the exact situation the Indians are in by taking a look at yesterday's Lazy Sunday by Paul Cousineau, because you will not find a better summation of where the Indians stand than what he has posted.

This team needs pitching. They needed starting pitching last year when they got Ubaldo Jimenez, they need it this year regardless of if they are buyers, sellers, or simply standing pat. You can go on and on about a left fielder or a right-handed bat, but this team's offense can win with what they have. They cannot win with what they have in the starting rotation producing the way are producing.

With that in mind, let's go through the rumors, because the Indians are heavily involved in them after their brilliant meltdown in Minnesota. They could come right back and sweep Kansas City and then fumble around in Detroit and be in this same spot next Monday for all we know. It's life in the American League Central with a rotation that is two-fifths complete at all times. You'll win a few to give you hope, then lose a few to deflate it all.



Could the Indians really move Shin-Soo Choo?

Well if you read the rumors and believe the rumors, they could. But even if you don't, the Indians could certainly trade him. They've thought about it in the past. Moving Choo was an idea that came up years ago before he even entered arbitration. The thought was that Choo was so good and represented by Scott Boras, so he would surely bolt at the first opportunity. Why not trade him now at his highest value and pull in enough to field an entire infield.

Those times passed though as Choo regressed due to injuries, pressure, and other reasons you can just throw under a what have you category. But now Choo is back to performing like we know he can, thriving in a leadoff role and being one of the solid factors to the Indians success this season. He's got right field locked down and if the Indians were to lock him up at a good price, he could be a fixture for years to come. The fans love him, the team loves him, but does Choo love the Indians enough to make it worth it to them? How do we know Choo wouldn't go back to the place he went when it looked like the Indians should have traded him when they had their chance to break the talent bank?

Ah we don't know, which is why we ended up with Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook eating up long term deals. But we also ended up with Jhonny Peralta, Grady Sizemore, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez. 

Here's all you need to consider right now. What does Shin-Soo Choo bring to this team? Right now he's bringing a bonafied leadoff hitter who can hit for power, steal a base, get on base, and play a solid right field with an arm that can throw anyone out at home. He has no guaranteed contract, playing in his second year of arbitration, with next year being his last before free agency.

The Indians have the following players in their system that could replace him in right field: . Yeah that's blank because they don't. Their prospects at the two highest levels of minor league ball include: Nick Weglarz, Thomas Neal, Tyler Holt, Tim Fedroff, and Ezequiel Carrera. If you think left field is a black hole right now, wait til you see right field if you trade Shin-Soo Choo.

Of course a lack of replacement player shouldn't be a reason not to trade Choo, because you could get someone in return that could fill that spot. For example the hot rumor concerning the Pittsburgh Pirates is that they'd have to send hot-shot stud Starling Marte to the Indians as the centerpiece. A deal like that for a player like Choo who has another year of control would have to force the Pirates to trade a good amount of talent in exchange for him. The Pirates have the ammo to pull of a variety of deals, if they actually do it is another question, but you have to imagine they are in the same position the Tribe is currently in.

They'd like to contend this season, but will not break the bank for a player unless they can control him for more than 2012.

Those players are hard to come by because most teams want to keep them. That's why the reports concerning Shin-Soo Choo mostly revolve around the words "reluctant to trade" and "likely to keep". Point blank, the Indians would have to be wowed. They would have to not only get a replacement outfielder who they could control for more than a few years, but you have to believe a pitcher that would slide into their rotation if not this year, the next. And that's just a starting point. Or at least the point I would start at.

No team like Pittsburgh would do that. Other teams that would like to go for broke might. But the question for them is do they have the prospects to package? Pittsburgh certainly does, but they might not want to do such a thing considering they'll just watch Choo walk away after 2013 anyway.

So in the end, not only should the Indians not trade Shin-Soo Choo, I would be flat out shocked if they did.

To add into the intrigue, I think since the time we considered Choo to be a goner and right now, his attitude has changed. Maybe he would be willing to play ball in regards to staying around in Cleveland. He owes a lot to the Indians for sticking with him through the DWI situation and doing all they could for him in regards to his military status. Maybe Choo would feel a little indebted to the Tribe.

Just some food for thought. Choo ultimately wants to win, so if the Indians can also give him that, then, maybe.


From the "I'm baffled, but it came from the always unimpressive Danny Knobler of CBSSports, so I'm not surprised anymore" department (it's a long department name, sorry), Justin Masterson could be traded. I've seen some of Knobler's "reports" in the past and always found them to be, well, unfounded. They also make no sense.

So someone told him the Indians said they "may be open to dealing" Justin Masterson. Those are his words, not out of context, plain as day, what he said. 

Which teams told him that? The ones that want Justin Masterson? Okay.

Look I'm not going to debunk rumors or challenge if something is truthful or not. But there are plenty of rumors that are shot up on a daily basis. There is a lot of discussion that goes on that doesn't get reported. I'm taking this one with a grain of salt because trading Masterson doesn't make even a lick of sense right now.

You can make an argument for Choo being dealt, I made one for, I made one against. I would be surprised if he was dealt, but if the package was right, I wouldn't be.

If the Indians traded Masterson for a legit package, I could buy that too. But here's the thing about that. The likelihood of the Indians getting that package? Slim to none right now.

Here's how that breaks down. Remember that pitching discussion we just had? The Indians really don't have anything to replace him with. Seriously, if you think that list of outfielders was depleted and unencouraging. Look at the list of starters the Indians have at the top levels: Corey Kluber, T.J. McFarland, Steven Wright, Giovanni Soto. And that doesn't include fodder or guys like Jeanmar Gomez or David Huff.

Gomez by the by pitched for the Clippers this weekend and I got a first hand look at how he's progressed. He hasn't, in fact he's regressed. 

So now that you know what's there, can you imagine how the Indians feel? They know the dirty secret of their pitching depth, which is not very good and not very deep. Why would you trade a top of the rotation arm that is under control for not just next season, but 2014 as well? The haul for him would have to be just as large as the haul for Choo, if not more. 

Let's add into the fact that Masterson's value is not nearly as high as it was when the season started because of the struggles. So that haul would not be just as large and you would be short-changing yourself on a valueable asset.

So yeah, maybe the Indians may be open to dealing Masterson, but how open? The window is very small.


We already saw a rumor of waves come through on closer Chris Perez. The main one regarded him going to San Francisco. Knobler also chimes in on the same report about Masterson, saying that Perez is unlikely to be moved.

If anything, Chris Perez would be the most likely to be moved as he is a hot commodity due to his position and could bring the Tribe the most current value. They could fill a need with Perez and still have Vinnie Pestano to move up into the closers role.

Unlike the position the Indians are in with Masterson and Choo, with no players in-waiting that can immediately step up and fill the void, that is not the case with Perez. As not only is Pestano a ready and waiting closer, but the Tribe's overall bullpen depth is very deep. The Indians have arms for days to come and if there is one thing they have set themselves up in over the past few drafts, its the amount of relief pitching options they have.

So Perez being traded, can make sense.

That does not mean I would do it now though.

If the Indians do want to trade Perez, they best wait until the season is over. For one, why disrupt what you have going for you right now? If you do catch fire and end up contending, you need the one-two-punch you've established. Rafael Perez has had another set back, Tony Sipp still isnt' right, Nick Hagadone is hurt and out for awhile, and Joe Smith is the only other reliable arm you have. While the Indians are deep, they are not a complete pen right now at this juncture and trading Perez weakens the squad right now.

Yes Perez stands to gain a lot in arbitration, which is big factor in why you would consider dealing him before the 2013 season. But it makes sense to hold onto him now, unless, you guessed it, you get blown away with an offer that makes too much sense not to take.


Now would be the time to remind you that I have a few awesome resources to use. The first is the Tribe Depth Chart I put together. It is somewhat up-to-date. I go a few days between updating it sometimes, so all the minor league info may not be accurate, but it gives you a good snapshot of what the Indians have at every level.

I also have the 40-man payroll chart that I utilize as more than just a snapshot of the 40-man and payroll, but where each player stands in terms of arbitration and everything else.

As we navigate through this next day and a half left of time before the deadline passes and no teams can make a trade without passing someone through waivers, consider this paragraph from Anthony Castrovince.

Even in the midst of understanding the “window of contention” template upon which the Tribe operates, why sell off any more of your already gaunt future stock to prop up a club that needs more than just a few finishing touches? A club that, by virtue of its left-leaning lineup and right-tossing starting staff, was not built to go on sustained stretches of success? A club whose schizophrenic personality (hit but don’t pitch, pitch but don’t hit) appears incurable?

It goes back to what I was stating earlier. It is ultimately what may keep the Indians from being either a seller or a buyer. It may keep the Indians from trading Choo, Masterson, and Perez or adding someone to play with them. This is a team that is so inconsistent on a week-to-week basis that right now adding a piece may be a detriment to them in the long haul. This is a team that if they trade one of their pieces, could make an addition that may extend the time of when they actually can contend another year or two. 

So maybe, just maybe, not making a move is the move you take. What can you add in the offseason to make your team better? What can you get for Chris Perez? How can you improve the rotation now that you know what you need. You don't know if Carrasco or Fausto Hernandez are going to be back, so to assume things will be dandy there is dangerous.

Taking the step-by-step approach could be the best thing this team does. Unless they add a player under control for another year after this for a minimal price (call me when you find that deal), the best deal may be to not deal.


Nino has a blog! Give it a vist at The Tribe Daily, or else Will Smith will drop down and erase your alien face memory.

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