Shin-Soo Choo is apparently on the trading block, but the Indians probably aren't too keen on trading him to a division rival.
Note: This was written minutes before the Tigers signed Torii Hunter, but I'm in Atlantic City and don't have time to write something else this morning.
Alright people who didn't like my Alex Gordon piece, read this sentence: the Cleveland Indians have shown interest in trading many of their top players for the right price. If you don't read that article before commenting, I have no sympathy for you.
For the rest of you: thanks for reading. Today's profile is of a long-time BYB pipe-dream, Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Who is he?
Choo is a 30 year old left-handed outfielder who has quietly put up some awesome numbers for the Indians over the past five seasons. Since 2008, Choo has hit .291/.384/.471 with an average of 16 home runs and 69 RBIs per season. These numbers include an injury-riddled 2011 where he hit just .259/.344/.390 in 85 games. Choo hit .283/.373/.441 last season with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs, and was worth 3.1 bWAR. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season but -- assuming he doesn't go all Adrian Beltre in his contract year -- probably won't receive a qualifying offer from the Indians, giving them extra incentive to trade him before he hits the open market.
Why should we care?
Because the offensive numbers I listed above are awesome, especially for a guy who is set to make roughly $5-6 million this season. All things considered, he could make the same amount of money as Delmon Young did last season, but could easily be worth 5+ wins more than Young. Choo is also an excellent baserunner, stealing 21+ bases in three of the last four seasons (and was on pace to do the same in 2011). He is also a good defender -- 2012 excluded, according to UZR, which pegged him at a gruesome -17.0 -- with a cannon for an arm, something that would fit very nicely in the Tigers' outfield.
Why should we stay away?
Being in the same division as the Indians probably jacks up the asking price quite a bit, and the Tigers don't exactly have a burgeoning farm system to work with. There's also a distinct possibility that anyone who ponies up for Choo is left empty-handed if he walks away after the 2013 season. While an offseason trade might be more beneficial -- bigger clubs might be more willing to extend him a qualifying offer in hopes of getting a draft pick (or one more year of Choo) -- there is also a good chance that the Indians hold their cards and see if they can't get a bigger trade package at the trade deadline.
Will he end up in Detroit?
I can't picture any scenario where the Indians trade him within the division, especially given the barren farm systems that populate the AL Central. The Indians are in the market for starting pitching (among other things), something that the Tigers don't really have now that Jacob Turner is the ace of the Miami Marlins' pitching staff. Any trade talks between the two teams would likely begin with Rick Porcello or Nick Castellanos, two players that I doubt the Tigers brass would be keen on giving up when there are other options on the free agent market. Add in the fact that we now have Torii Hunter and I'd put the odds of this happening at very close to zero.