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Indians Will Take Time Deciding Choo’s Fate

 

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The Cleveland Indians have a lot of work to do this offseason to restock their ball club. The Tribe bid farewell to designated hitter Travis Hafner, centerfielder Grady Sizemore and starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez allowing all three to walk away in free-agency. The ball club also needs a starting first baseman, a left fielder and a third baseman that can stay healthy and contribute for a full-season. A key piece to the team’s puzzle this offseason will be right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who will become a free agent following the close of the 2013 campaign. Choo is a favorite with the few Indians fans that remain and is a key part of their offense as well finishing the 2012 season with a .283 average, 16 homers, 21 steals, 43 doubles, 67 RBIs and 88 runs scored in 155 games. He saw success as both a lead-off and a clean-up hitter and was able to play mostly injury-free for the first time in his career. All of these things will make him excellent trade-bait if the Indians are truly looking to land a big name right-handed bat to bolster their line-up this winter.

Choo is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, and there is no doubt that the Indians will not be in the market to sign him when he tests the free agent market next year, so if the club decides to keep him expect them to move him before the trade deadline next July. Choo has also expressed that he has a desire to win, something that he likely won’t be able to do in Cleveland as the ball club is still years away from being a true contender. The Indians have faced this situation before and have used kid gloves when deciding when the time was right to part ways with their soon-to-be free agents. The club dealt CY Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee during the season in 2008 and 2009 respectively; they did the same to All-Star catcher Victor Martinez and shortstop Jhonny Peralta. It is likely that they will follow suit with Choo and wait until next July to deal him for someone that is making an impact at the time rather than taking a chance on someone this winter given that the current pool of available first basemen isn’t terribly deep and that is where the Indians need help the most. One thing is certain though, and that is Choo will not be in an Indians uniform at the start of the 2014 season; what happens between now and then in sure to be fun to watch regardless of what uniform he ends up wearing in 2013.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent

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