With the Cleveland Indians falling two games under .500, and five out of the wild card race, there has been rising interest into their star right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. Choo, who is making $4.9 million this year and is eligible for his final year of arbitration in 2013, would be more than a rental for any interested teams, and the 30-year old is a very attractive option for many teams on the market.
After a lost 2011 season that saw Choo play in only 85 games and have his power completely disappear, he's rebounded to his former self this year. His walk and strikeout rates are right around his career averages (with a 10.6% walk rate that should make any team extremely happy), and his ISO is also right there as well. In 2009 and 2010, Choo was a 20/20 player for the Indians, and with 12 homers and 11 steals this year, he's on the road to that benchmark again.
Who are the teams that could have interest in Choo? The Reds, Pirates, Dodgers, and Rangers have been the three teams primarly linked to Choo, but the Indians aren't looking to punt on Shoo for a substandard package. Cleveland apparently wants a "good major leaguer with less than three years of service time".
Would any of these teams have a player that fits? The Reds have Drew Stubbs, approaching three years of service time, who has a career .723 OPS, 57 homers, and 103 steals at age 27…but he might be a little old and lacking the ceiling for Cleveland's desires. The Pirates seem to be a perfect match with Starling Marte, but would they be willing to give up such a promising young player for a year and a half of Choo? After trading Robbie Grossman last week, I'm not sure that the Pirates would want to trade Marte as well. Maybe the Indians think higher of Jose Tabata, currently in the minors, than the Pirates do. The Rangers are a largely veteran team, and their best young players have limited major league experience. The Dodgers have nothing.
If Choo does get dealt, I'd expect it to be to one of the Indians' rival teams: the Pirates or the Reds. However, I don't think that Cleveland is going to pull the trigger on a deal unless everything falls into place perfectly for them. After getting burned on the returns when they traded CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee over the past few years, the Tribe will be looking for more of a Casey Blake trade (when they outright stole Carlos Santana from the Dodgers) than one of those two package deals.
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