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Hot Stove: The Choo, Stubbs, Bauer Three-Way Deal
Dan Port | Wednesday December 12th, 2012
Shin-Soo Choo is headed to Cincinnati in a three-way trade. (US Presswire)
Shin-Soo Choo is headed to Cincinnati in a three-way trade. (US Presswire)
The MLB hot stove continued to sizzle on Tuesday when it was announced that a three-way deal between the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks would send Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, outfielder Drew Stubbs to the Indians, and Arizona pitching prospect Trevor Bauer to the Indians, with several other players moving as well.

As a result of the deal, the following players will have new teams in 2012:

To the Indians
RHP Trevor Bauer (from the Diamondbacks)
RHP Matt Albers (from the Diamondbacks)
RHP Bryan Shaw (from the Diamondbacks)
OF Drew Stubbs (from the Reds)

To the Diamondbacks
SS Didi Gregorius (from the Reds)
LHP Tony Sipp (from the Indians)
1B/LF Lars Anderson (from the Indians)

To the Reds
OF Shin-Soo Choo (from the Indians)
IF Jason Donald (from the Indians)

The Reds will likely expect Choo to replace Stubbs as their starting centerfielder for the upcoming 2013 season, since slugging outfielders Jay Bruce and the recently resigned Ryan Ludwick are already embedded as the team's right and leftfielder, respectively.  Choo has played exclusively in right field for the Indians since 2010, but did have brief experience in center prior to that. 

The 30 year-old South Korea native compiled a .300 batting average, a .397 on-base percentage (OBP) and back-to-back 20/20 (home run/stolen base) seasons for Cleveland in 2009 and 2010 before a disappointing and injury-shortened 2011 campaign in which he hit just .259 in 85 games.  However, Choo bounced back nicely in 2012 by hitting .283 with a .373 OBP, 16 homers, and 21 steals.  His hitting production may mask his defensive shortcomings as an everyday centerfielder with Cincy, though only time will prove whether or not that is the case.

Along with Choo, the Reds also acquired 28 year-old utility infielder Jason Donald, who has just 603 plate appearances in three seasons with Cleveland.  Donald has played mainly shortstop and second base in his big league career, though he saw most of his time at third base in 2012.  The California native has an unimpressive .257/.309/.362 triple-slash (average/on-base/slugging) line in 170 major league games and hit just .202 in 124 at-bats in 2012, but he is a capable defender at multiple infield spots and should be a valuable asset for Cincinnati this season.

The top prospect in this deal was 21 year-old righthanded phenom Trevor Bauer, who entered 2012 as the Diamondbacks' top major league prospect and the ninth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.  Writer Nate Springfield profiled Bauer back in June when he was making his major league debut and, despite four unimpressive outings for the major league club, Bauer still had a promising season and remains one of the game's rising stars.  In 22 starts between the Diamondbacks' Double and Triple-A clubs in 2012, Bauer tallied a 12-2 record with a 2.42 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and 157 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings.  He's been plagued by high walk totals throughout his professional career, but the future remains bright for Bauer and he should be an impact starter for the Indians rotation very soon.

With Bauer, the Indians also acquired righthanded relievers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw, who should help solidify their already good bullpen.  Albers, age 29, has seen major league time since his 2006 season with the Astros and joined the Diamondbacks on July 31st as part of the deal that sent lefthander Craig Breslow to Boston for veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik.  In 60 1/3 innings with Boston and Arizona, Albers posted the best numbers of his career with a 2.39 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts.  This breakout season may have been a direct result of his career-best 3.3 walks per nine innings (BB/9) rate, a big improvement from the 4.2 mark he had in prior years.  Albers has just a 4.68 career ERA, but if he can limit his walks again in 2013, he could be a big contributor in the middle innings.

Righthander Bryan Shaw, Arizona's second-round pick in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft, had an impressive big league debut season in 2011 and started 2012 with similar promise before struggling from July 4th on.  Shaw snagged a pair of early-season saves for the D-Backs and had a 2.67 ERA on July 3rd, but finished the year with just a 3.73 ERA and a 1.71 strikeout-to-walk (K/BB) ratio.  Still, the Cal State Long Beach product could have a bright future as a late-inning setup man, particularly if he makes adjustments to maintain his effectiveness late into a major league season.

The Indians will also receive 28 year-old outfielder Drew Stubbs, who impressed with a combined 37 home runs and 70 stolen bases for the Reds in 2010 and 2011 but has failed to hit for anything but a poor big league batting average and struggled to just a .213/.277/.333 triple-slash line in 2012, with 14 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 136 games.  He'll look to bounce back in 2013 with Cleveland.

The Diamondbacks' return on this trade starts with veteran lefthanded reliever Tony Sipp, who saw his overall numbers decline from a strong 2011 season but finished the 2012 campaign strongly and is a proven lefthanded specialist, though he is capable of facing multiple hitters out of the bullpen.  The 29 year-old posted a 2.73 ERA from July 4th on last year and should be a key lefty for Arizona in 2013.

Arizona also acquired 22 year-old shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius, who entered 2012 as the sixth-best prospect in the Reds system (per Baseball America) and one of the best young defensive players in all of minor league baseball.  Gregorius, a native of the Netherlands, played eight games for the Reds in 2012 and spent most of his season at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville, posting a .265/.324/.393 triple-slash line with 21 doubles, 11 triples, and 7 home runs in 129 minor league games.  He'll need to improve at the plate to be a big league regular, but he remains a notable prospect.

The final player heading to Arizona in this deal is first baseman and leftfielder Lars Anderson, age 25, who spent his entire professional baseball career in the Red Sox system before being dealt to Cleveland for pitcher Steven Wright on July 31st of 2012.  Anderson, a tall but lean lefthanded hitter, made his big league debut for Boston back in 2010 but has played just 30 career MLB games.  He was a fairly highly-touted prospect prior to 2010 but has seen steady declines in both batting average and home runs since then, resulting in a .272 career minor league batting average.  Anderson has above-average on-base skills, as evidenced by his .369 on-base mark in 748 minor league games, and could still be a valuable player for the Diamondbacks, but he is no longer much of a prospect.

From a fantasy baseball perspective, the largest effect of this trade will be on Choo, who should benefit from hitting at the top of a potent Reds lineup.  Another .300 batting average with 20 home runs and 20 steals seems quite possible, and he could post 90 to 100 runs scored if his on-base numbers are good again.  Bauer may or may not be ready for a MLB rotation spot in 2013, so his fantasy profile is undetermined, but he's still a red-hot prospect.  Stubbs, with regular playing time, should once again help fantasy teams in the home run and stolen base categories, but if he fails to put up better average and on-base numbers, he might be destined for more of a bench role.  The other players in this deal remain on the fringe of any common fantasy league.

Overall, the earliest returns on this deal will come from Choo, Stubbs, and Bauer.  The Diamondbacks probably should've gotten more for their top prospect Bauer, but the club is rich with young starting pitchers and if Gregorius develops as expected, it could be an okay move in the long run.  Bauer's major league struggles, Stubbs' inconsistency, Gregorius' hitting, and Choo's ability to play center field are question marks that will all ultimately determine the full results of this trade.

 
Dan PortDan Port has been a writer and article editor for Baseball Press since the fall of 2009. He's a Wisconsin native and Los Angeles resident, as well as an aspiring novelist, moderately successful gambler, and avid craft beer aficionado. You can reach him at dan@baseballpress.com or check him out on Twitter @danport and at DanielPort.com.