Bauer, Gregorious Moved in Nine Player Trade


Since last week’s Winter Meetings there has been chatter about a possible three-team trade, if not bigger, that would involve the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians in some fashion. Much of the speculation focused on Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera landing in Arizona, likely in a bigger deal that would give the D’backs the player they coveted if Justin Upton were to be moved. At various points the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Kansas City Royals were all rumored to be involved in talks but the Cincinnati Reds name came up. Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman of were the first to report a deal, which the teams have since confirmed themselves, had been reached that would involve the D’backs, Indians, and Reds and a total of nine players.

Right-hander Trevor Bauer will get a fresh start in Cleveland, after the D’backs moved him to land their long coveted shortstop. (Image Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

Here’s the breakdown …

Reds get:

> OF Shin-Soo Choo

> INF Jason Donald

Indians get:

> RHP Trevor Bauer

> OF Drew Stubbs

> RHP Bryan Shaw

> RHP Matt Albers

Diamondbacks get:

> SS Didi Gregorius

> LHP Tony Sipp

> OF Lars Anderson

Bauer is easily the prize of the group and a great pickup for the Indians. The former 1st Round pick has quickly fallen out of favor in Arizona, despite being one of their best known prospects and brightest young players. Bauer made four mid-season starts for the D’backs last July, going 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA across 16.1 innings. He’d add 9.4 K/9 but a troubling 7.2 BB/9. Spending most of the season in the minor leagues, Bauer dominated. In 22 starts between Double-A and Triple-A he’d post a 12-2 mark, 2.42 ERA, 10.8 K/9, and 4.2 BB/9 over 130.1 innings of work. Scouts have projected him to be a top of the rotation talent ever since before the 2011 Draft, but questions about his attitude have been made public by the organization and it would appear they were eager to make a move that they felt would upgrade their roster long term.

The nearly 22 year old Bauer is likely MLB-ready and could step into the Indians rotation as soon as this Spring. Early on he’ll be a nice option towards the back end of the rotation, but he could ultimately develop into a pitcher like the aces that they thought Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez were going to be. He’s still under team control for six years as well, giving the organization time to build around him before he potentially prices himself out of the Cleveland market.

Cleveland added three more players in the deal. Stubbs could prove to be a key piece, if the 28 year old can return to form. He hit .255/.329/.444 with 22 HR and 77 RBI during the 2010 season, but has trended downhill since. Stubbs batted just .213/.277/.333 this past year, striking out 166 times in 544 plate appearances. He’s an asset in center field, however, which will be a nice addition for the Indians who’ve lacking flash since they employed a healthy Grady Sizemore out there. Shaw and Albers offer some extra depth for the bullpen at a relatively minimal cost.

Most of the initial public response to the deal has focused on Cincinnati’s acquisition of Choo – a Scott Boras client who is just a year away from free agency. When healthy he’s been one of the more consistent players in the game, batting .291/.384/.471 in 2,745 plate appearances and he averaged 16 HR and 69 RBI a year. He could take a walk, occasionally steal a base, and offered solid defense. He gets on base. But his future in Cleveland has long been an uncertainty. There were rumblings when Choo first reached arbitration a few years ago that the team had interest in signing Choo to a long term deal, but nothing was every worked out between the two sides and it’s widely assumed that next winter he will test the free agent market for the first time.

The Reds are reportedly going to make Choo their center fielder, a position he’s only appeared at in 10 of his 652 career games. By all accounts he should be above average defensively, but the team is willing to compromise considering what they feel he can offer batting leadoff for them. Choo gets on base. With players like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto following in the lineup a player like Choo could end up scoring a lot of early runs for the Reds. He fits a need for a team that was in the playoffs this past season.

Donald was highly regarded as a shortstop in the Philadelphia Phillies system, but hasn’t quite fulfilled that potential. Acquired by Cleveland as part of the first Cliff Lee trade back in 2009, Donald has seen limited playing time appearing in just 170 games over the past three seasons. He’s hit .257/.309/.362 in 603 plate appearances in that span, striking out four times for every walk. He’s versatile defensively, however, seeing time all across the infield which is where the value comes in as a utility option. He’s still just 28 years old and not yet arbitration eligible.

Didi Gregorius might win a Gold Glove someday, a hope the Diamondbacks are counting on. (Image Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona’s prize in the deal is Gregorius, a 22 year old shortstop who many believe is ready for the Major Leagues. He’s a strong defensive player who could someday win a Gold Glove at the position, but he doesn’t overly impress like another shortstop prospect in the Reds system (i.e. Billy Hamilton – who may not need to move to the outfield after all with this deal). Gregorius hit just .265/.324/.393 over 561 plate appearances this past season between Double-A and Triple-A.

He saw a late season callup with the Reds, getting 6 hits in 20 at bats over 8 games at season’s end.

At first word of Gregorius’ inclusion in the deal suggested that Cabrera would be the shortstop moving on to Arizona, but it would seem the D’backs coveted Gregorious more. He’ll likely come to Spring Training as the favorite to win the starting job but the Diamondbacks had already acquired one defensive minded shortstop already this offseason, picking up Cliff Pennington from Oakland for Chris Young, so there are no certainties who’ll receive the bulk of the player time at first. Considering the team has long been asking for a shortstop as the headlining piece of any possible deal with Justin Upton, it would appear as though there no longer is a need to move the right fielder.

Arizona also will receive Sipp, a left-handed reliever who’s made 63+ appearances over the past three seasons for the Indians, with a 3.84 ERA and 8.8 K/9, and a first baseman/outfielder in Anderson who’s failed to live up to the early hype that surrounded his career. The 25 year old former top prospect and power threat spent most of 2012 in Triple-A, batting .250/.353/.396 with just 9 HR.

Overall the deal is tough to grade, as an argument can be made that each party won considering what they were trying to accomplish.

Cleveland dealt an outfielder one year away from free agency who they were unlikely to re-sign and wound up landing one of the game’s top pitching prospects in return. Cincinnati upgraded their outfield offense and found the leadoff hitter they’ve long sought after, but parted with a potentially great defensive shortstop in the process. Arizona found the shortstop they’ve long wanted to build around, though took a chance on an option that many feel is overvalued and paid a steep price to do so because they gave up on a prospect too early.

Only time will dictate how this deal is viewed long term.