Traded C Kelly Shoppach to Tampa Bay for a Player to be Named Later
Kelly's career stats:
There are several factors that contributed up to this trade. First, and most importantly, the Indians have two young catchers (Lou Marson, and later Carlos Santana) that they'd like to get a good look at this year. They could have waited until they thought Santana was ready to handle a major league staff to trade him, but there was little chance that he would remain with the team through the 2010 season.
Shoppach is also in his second year of arbitration, and is due for a small raise from his $1.95M 2009 salary. Kelly's offense fell off dramatically in 2009, though he still managed a 98 OPS+, still very good for a catcher. Shoppach's offensive game is always going to be an amended Three True Outcomes (home runs, strikeouts, and, in hit by pitches), but last season the strikeouts were up and the power was down. I don't see 2009 as part of a downward trend for Kelly, though. Finally, Kelly was very critical of organization after the Victor Martinez trade, and while that criticism probably had little to do with the trade, it also made dealing him in the offseason an easier call than if he had embraced his opportunity after the trade. I still think he was going to be dealt sooner or later, but it would have made more sense to wait until during the 2010 season to do it, since his value might have gone up with better offensive production.
The trade means that Lou Marson will be the Indians' Opening Day catcher, and most likely that Wyatt Toregas will be his backup. Carlos Santana is slated to spend some time in AAA until the Indians feel he's ready defensively.
The Indians, as is often their tactic, will choose a player from an agreed-to list. The deadline for making the pick is December 20th, so I'll comment on the player then.