"Okay, Dayton Moore. You think you can deal a big prospect at far less than his perceived value? Well, watch this!" - Kevin Towers, apparently.
Yes, hot off the heels of the Wil Myers et al for James Shields and Wade Davis trade, another trade has shaken us from our winter hibernation as baseball fans and analysts.
The deal, involving the Cleveland Indian, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, breaks down as follows, per ESPN.
Out: Shin-Soo Choo, Lars Anderson, Tony Sipp, Jason Donald
In: Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, Bryan Shaw, Matt Albers
Out: Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, Matt Albers
In: Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson
Out: Drew Stubbs, Didi Gregorius
In: Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald
This trade is, in my view, a significant win for the Indians, a minor victory for the Reds, and a huge head-scratcher for the Diamondbacks.
For the Reds, they upgrade their offense at a defensive cost.
Choo is a nice hitter with great on-base skills and 20-20 potential, but the move leaves the Reds with a Ludwick-Bruce-Choo outfield. It sounds as if Choo will get the shot in center, but the initial reaction seems to be that Bruce may be the better bet, though neither will be even average there.
Still, the Reds get an offensive boost, an international marketing boost, and a more clear and logical batting order, while taking a defensive step back in the outfield (sorry, Reds' pitchers), at the price of a fairly well-regarded prospect (more on him in a minute).
For the Indians, Choo wasn't long for Cleveland anyway, and I'd be surprised if this wasn't the best deal they could have possibly hoped for.
They get Bauer, who the Diamondbacks are ready to give up on at age 21 because he had a bit of an odd month in the majors.
The team allegedly soured on him because he rubbed teammates the wrong way and was resistant to some of the changes proposed to him, while also refusing to work around a groin injury. I have no inside information in this regard, but even if you assume all of the worst is true, so what?
A 21-year old pitcher, who appears to be very intelligent by the way, is hesitant to make changes to an approach that he studies intently and has always worked for him?
That sounds like the type of makeup you'd like in a young pitcher, although yes, you'd want him to be more receptive. But otherwise, an intelligent, capable, and competitive pitcher who wouldn't pitch around an injury? Sounds like a "gamer" to me, to use some non-saber speak.
I digress on the personality stuff - even with all of that, assume the worst, and it still doesn't make much sense. The Indians get a potential number-two starter who gets baseball fans wet (just me? Sorry, I'm a big fan), at the price of a guy who was out the door soon anyway. Lemons, meet lemonade.
As for the Diamondbacks, I understand that they like Gregorius and soured on Bauer, but come on.
Ignoring the relievers and bit parts that exchanged, the D-Backs essentially swapped a major league ready starter for Andrelton Simmons light, an all-defense, no-offense shortstop prospect. Gregorius might be major league ready, too, and he might be very good in the field.
The Diamondbacks side was summed up pretty well by Mike Newman at Fangraphs:
Four-plus years of watching prospects in person has shown shortstops with starter ceilings are harder to find than pitching. In Gregorius, the Diamondbacks found a cost controlled shortstop of the future when their best internal option was suspect prospect Chris Owings. Trevor Bauer may become an excellent big-league pitcher, but the DBacks have a plethora of young pitching in tow. Arizona used an organizational strength to fill a black hole and Cleveland did as well. Consider it a win-win for both franchises.
I disagree, personally, and like the Royals, it's a matter of opportunity cost.
Could they have got better for Bauer? Yes.
Could they have got a Gregorius-type player without giving up an asset as good as Bauer? Probably.
Does it appear they explored all their avenues to deal from a strength to fill a weakness? I don't think so.
But really, this deal comes down to what you think of Bauer (other than the Reds, whose case is pretty clear). I'll open it up to the community and the more scout-y types who might have some more insight into him.
My take, though, is that the Reds are justified in their move, the Indians got the best deal possible for a departing player, and the 'Backs failed to get the most out of an impressive asset.