The MLB Winter Meetings take place in one week in Nashville, Tennessee. And during the four-day event some significant trades are bound to go do. And since the Indians entire roster is apparently on the trading block, it seems likely that we’ll have some new faces coming to Cleveland in the near future.
The biggest name likely on his way out is Shin-Soo Choo, who will become a free agent following the 2013 season. Given the unique circumstances of a Shoo trade – due to the fact that his agent, Scott Boras, is unlikely to allow him to sign an extension – I thought it would be interesting to look back at other players traded prior to a contract year.
As it turns out, finding other examples proved to be difficult.
The most notable recent example occurred prior to the 2009 season when the Rockies traded Matt Holiday to the A’s. Here’s how the trade broke down:
Athletics receive: Matt Holliday
Rockies receive: Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Huston Street
At the time of the trade, Holliday was 28 years old and coming off consecutive seasons in which he had posted a WAR over 5.0. Had the Indians traded Choo two years ago, he would have fit that exact description. But now he’s 30 and coming off two seasons in which he’s combined for a total WAR of 4.6.
So while it would be nice to expect a package featuring a franchise player such as CarGo and a solid reliever like Street, the Indians won’t be so lucky.
A slightly more appropriate comparison may be the deal that sent Melky Cabrera to the Giants prior to the 2012 season.
Giants receive: Melky Cabrera
Royals receive: Johnathan Sanchez and Ryan Verdugo
At the time of the trade Cabrera was 27 years old and coming off a career year with a WAR of 4.1. But he had never posted those numbers previously and there were concerns that he was a one-year wonder (or as we learned later, a ‘roided up one-year wonder).
The Indians could certainly ask for more than a Johnathan Sanchez-type, but it may not be realistic given Choo’s age, injury history and presumed unwillingness to sign an extension. While Sanchez flopped in Kansas City and was traded before completing a full year, he has always shown promise and was expected to be a number-three starter, at worst.
Ideally, the Indians could bring in a younger version of Sanchez to avoid having to throw in the towel after just a few months. But the Indians also need to be sure they bring in some major-league ready talent. Unfortunately the Tribe’s farm system is lacking in the upper levels and they simply can’t afford to dump a cornerstone player like Choo without getting major-league talent in return.
A few potential trade targets…
Braves – Tyler Pastornicky… Pastornicky is a decent prospect but Andrelton Simmons is the shortstop of the future in Atlanta. If the Indians are interested in trading Asdrubal Cabrera as well, adding Pastornicky might make sense.
Athletics – A.J. Griffin or Brett Anderson… Griffin was great for the A’s down the stretch this year but has never been considered an elite prospect. Anderson is a former top prospect who has battled injuries.