CLEVELAND - Choo who? That's what Indians fans will probably be saying in a couple years when it comes to the outfielder who was traded to the Reds Tuesday night.
The Indians dealt Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati in a three-team trade that netted Drew Stubbs and a top pitching prospect.
Trevor Bauer, who comes over from Arizona, was selected third overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. Scouts say Bauer needs to work on his control but at 21 years old his ceiling is high. For an organization mostly bereft of elite prospects, it's worth the chance.
Stubbs brings speed and good defense but also a propensity for strikeouts. He'll join recent Indians addition Mark Reynolds in the ‘K' club.
There's no guarantee either Stubbs, Bauer or the two relievers acquired by the Indians will make a game-changing difference. Come this season, it could even be a downgrade. However, outrage over the trade that some Indians fans have expressed is outlandish.
Shin-Soo Choo is not an award-winning player. This is not trading away Cy Young winners two consecutive years in a row, as the Indians did with C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee.
Choo is a solid every day player, a good leadoff hitter for a well put together lineup. The Reds have that but the Indians do not right now. Adding Choo should prove a valuable addition to Cincinnati's potent power punch. Losing him in Cleveland is not the end of the world, especially for a team that has plenty of work to do.
Not one batter on the Indians roster, including Choo, finished the 2012 season batting .300 or higher. Offensive futility festered after the all-star break, the Indians tied for last in the American League in runs scored.
Giving up Choo is not breaking up a contender. It's not killing the future. In fact, most insiders said the Indians would not have been able to retain Choo after his contract is up after this season. Negotiating with agent Scott Boras is no appealing prospect for any organization, let alone one that's not operating with a big budget.
Fans may argue the Indians are giving up their only good players. Watching the team at the end of last season was a painful prospect even with Choo.
Seeing your club trade top players is difficult to swallow but it's made easier when the prospects pan out. That has not happened with Sabathia and Lee, Matt LaPorta in particular the most prominent example of that.
Good teams with low budgets, like Oakland, lose players but make smart moves to replenish and have talent evaluators who spot future contributors.
The Indians need Bauer to be that, a young pitcher with upside who pans out and becomes a part of their future. Losing Choo is not a crippling blow but failing to get back at least a good, if not great, player will continue to fuel a vicious cycle of losing.