CIN-CLE-ARZ MEGA-DEAL Comprehensive Review

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Let's take a deep breath and look at how this trade affects the Indians in 2013 and beyond.

First, here's all the pieces in the trade:

Cincinnati gets: OF Shin-Soo Choo (CLE), IF Jason Donald (CLE), $3.5M (CLE)

Arizona gets: SS Didi Gregorius (CIN), LHP Tony Sipp (CLE), Lars Anderson (CLE)

Cleveland gets: RHP Trevor Bauer (ARZ), OF Drew Stubbs (CIN), RHP Bryan Shaw (ARZ), Matt Albers (ARZ)

Payroll Implications

If you add up all the pieces coming an going, the Indians pretty much break even:

Salary Going:

  • Shin-Soo Choo ~$7.5M (Arbitration)
  • Tony Sipp ~$1.1M (Arbitration)
  • Jason Donald ~$500K (Renewable)*
  • Lars Anderson ~$500K (Renewable)*
  • Total: $9.6M

*Assuming that both Donald and Anderson would spend the season on the 25-man roster, which is a reach to say the least.

Salary Coming:

  • Drew Stubbs ~$3.0M (Arbitration)
  • Matt Albers ~$1.75M (Arbitration)
  • Bryan Shaw ~$550K (Renewable)
  • Trevor Bauer ~$500K (Renewable)
  • $3.5M in cash in Cincinnati
  • Total: $9.35M

The cash was sent to cover the difference in salary between Choo and Stubbs, but I think the difference is closer to $4.5M than $3.5; if that's corrected then the Indians take on $1M, and if you figured that Donald/Anderson weren't going to be pulling a major-league salary, $2M. Which is a lot to you and I, but not much in the grand scheme of things on a baseball payroll. This trade will not financially affect the Indians going after Nick Swisher or any other free agent that they were thinking of going after.

Service Time Issues

Another way to look at the deal is the team control, or in other words, how long before the principals of the deal have until free agency. Here's the approximate service times of the players in the deal and the resulting team control the tclubs have:

CLE Players Received

  • Matt Albers 5.141 (1 year)
  • Drew Stubbs 3.047 (3 years)
  • Bryan Shaw 1.081 (5 years)
  • Trevor Bauer 0.021 (6 years)

CIN Players Received

  • Shin-Soo Choo 5.119 (1 Year)
  • Jason Donald 1.158 (5 Years)

ARZ Players Received

  • Tony Sipp 3.138 (3 Years)
  • Didi Gregorius 0.033 (6 Years)
  • Lars Anderson 0.053 (6 Years)

The Reds get the best current player in the deal (Choo), but only for a year, as he is a 99.99% chance to become a free agent at the end of the year. Heck, just make it 100% since his agent is Scott Boras. The Reds are unlikely to even try to retain him, but they would get a compensatory draft pick out of it since Choo will spend the entire season in Cincinnati. Choo is rental for the Reds, and given their playoff aspirations, that's fine with them. Both teams could prolong free agency a season by sending the players to the minors for a month or so if they wanted to. So keep that in mind if the Indians send Bauer to Columbus after a good spring.

40-Man Roster Implications

By trading away four players and receiving two in return, the roster is still at 40 players, so they'll need to remove someone when they officially sign Mark Reynolds, assuming they don't make a trade between now and then. Two of the players that the I had thought the Indians could DFA were actually included in this trade, so that leaves a much smaller list of players to pick from. Here's the possibilities from my standpoint:

RHP Blake Wood - waiver claim this winter, will start the season on the Disabled List

1B Mike McDade - waiver claim this winter

LHP David Huff - Very poor 2012 minor-league campaign, though showed some promise very late in the year. Out of options.

25-Man Roster Implications

Here's where the Indians lose in the short-term. They were already looking for a corner outfielder, but now they really need to land one. The Indians did get back an outfielder in the deal in Drew Stubbs, but while Stubbs is a good defender in center, he was awful at the plate in 2012, and adding him to the lineup is going to create a hole wherever he's placed, whether that be center (most likely) or elsewhere. Finding an outfielder in free agency or via trade might have a been a priority before, but now it's priority 1A.

Both Albers and Shaw should slot into the bullpen, so that takes away a potential open spot for a guy like Frank Herrmann. The trade of Sipp means that the Indians will not have a left-hander returning next season; Rafael Perez was non-tendered last week. So that means the door is open for Nick Hagadone and/or Scott Barnes to earn an important role in the bullpen next spring.

As mentioned above, the Indians could push out Bauer's free agent eligibility by sending him to the minors for a month or so in 2013, but if they don't Bauer most likely pushes Corey Kluber to Columbus.

Short-Term Value

The Indians are big short-term losers in this deal because they very likely dealt the best 2013 performer in the deal. Choo has generally been a 3-5 win player since 2008 with the exception of his injury-shortened 2011 campaign, and there's no reason to think that he won't be that valuable in 2013. The Reds are apparently going to play Choo in center field, which Choo hasn't played since very early in his career, so they'll lose some defensive value there. I suppose the idea is to take the hit on defense and hope to make it up in overall offense (a la the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera last year). Choo's defensive in recent years has been tied to his arm, so moving to center diminishes that advantage somewhat. Great American Ballpark doesn't have a spacious outfield, so maybe the Reds can get away with Choo in center.

Matt Albers had a career year in 2012 split between Boston and Arizona; he was dealt at the deadline to Arizona (along with Scott Podsednik) for LGFT Craig Breslow (which is probably why Tony Sipp was included in the deal) and pitched well with the Diamondbacks the last couple months of the season. He was a 1.1 win player last year, which was better than anyone else in the Cleveland bullpen except for Vinnie Pestano.

2012 was Bryan Shaw's first full season the majors, and he did a decent job, accumulating 0.3 wins. He had a rather big split between right-handers and left-handers, which makes sense given that his cutter is his best pitch. He's not a strikeout pitcher; he's successful when he induces weak contact. With most of the other guys in the bullpen (and the rotation) power guys, Shaw might fit in well as a change of pace.

Trevor Bauer threw just 16.1 innings in the majors last year and got rocked, allowing 13 runs in that major-league time. He did strike out 17 batters, but allowed 14 hits and 13 walks. That short time in the majors may have been his undoing, as he clashed with the major-league staff as to how to attack hitters; Bauer thought that he would have success staying up in the zone, and the coaching staff thought differently. That clash led to his demotion in mid-July, and although Bauer mended some fences after the season, it looks like that episode may have been one reason why he was available in a trade to begin with.

Jason Donald appeared in 43 games with the Indians in 2012 and was awful at the plate. He's not really a shortstop, so he'll have to make a career of being able to play multiple positions. That trend start with some time in the outfield, and now that he's going to a National League club, that ability to play there should be more useful. When the Indians acquired Mike Aviles earlier this winter Donald became superfluous.

Lars Anderson has no short-term value; he's extremely likely to start the season in AAA, and given Arizona's status at first base, it would take a couple of injuries for him to appear in a major-league game in 2013. And that's if he hits.

Long-Term Value

This is why everyone is excited about this trade. As mentioned above, Choo is going to walk at the end of the season, and so getting a player like Bauer for one year of Choo is quite a haul.

Trevor Bauer was the third pick overall in the 2011 draft out of UCLA. Probably the only reason why Bauer didn't go any higher was that he's not a huge guy like a Justin Verlander or David Price; Bauer set several records in three years at UCLA, including strikeouts and career wins and had the best stuff of anyone in the draft with the possible exception of Dylan Bundy. Bauer's workout regimen and delivery drew a lot of comparisons to Tim Lincecum, who also has a similar build. Trevor has four major-league pitches (fastball, splitter, curve, and slider) with his 12-to-6 curve being his pitch. Missing bats should not be a problem for Bauer in the majors, but he'll need to become more efficient with his pitches; he walked 4.2 batters in his short time in the minors. Just 22 years old (2013 age), Bauer has the upside of an ace, and he can start the season in the Cleveland rotation if the Indians want him to (see the service time section).

Translated in WAR, he could be worth 22-24 wins over the six seasons Indians control him, or if they manage his service time right, another 3-4 wins beyond that. Now that's his upside; if he becomes more of a mid-rotation guy or loses a season or so to injury, the Indians would get 16-18 wins (3 WAR/year) out of him. He's a pitcher, so there's also the possibility that he gets hurt and never pitches again, but given the cost of the deal, that's a risk the Indians almost had to take given the upside.

This type of pitcher would not be available to the Indians on the free agent market; Zack Greinke, who was the best pitcher available, just signed with the Dodgers for 6 years and $147M (or $24.5M/year). And I think Bauer has a better upside. The only way for the Indians to get a player like Bauer in both ability and service time is through trade or the draft. That it only took Choo and not Asdrubal Cabrera is quite a coup for the Indians. Arizona GM Kevin Towers apparently coveted Didi Gregorius, and the Indians had exactly the type of player the Reds were looking for; a high-OBP outfielder that can lead off in front of Joey Votto. The Indians could still trade Asdrubal Cabrera if they wanted to; there's still teams looking for upgrades at shortstop, but that's to this trade, they don't have to.

The other player worth talking about from the Indians' perspective in this section is Shaw, who could be a serviceable reliever for the next 5 seasons. That would translate into 2.5-3 wins over the course of his Indians career.

Conclusion

The Reds came out winners here, as they filled a gigantic hole in their lineup without taking much away from their major-league roster. The Indians came out winners for the reasons detailed above. The Diamondbacks? I still don't understand (a) why Gregorius was the guy Towers wanted and (b) why he was willing to deal Bauer to get him. Kudos to Chris Antonetti for recognizing who Towers wanted and making things work so that the Indians still got the pitching they wanted even after the various Asdrubal Cabrera trades fizzled out.

(Note: I'll update the 40-man roster chart tonight. Ran out of time this morning.)

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