As Indians Free Fall Continues, Trade Rumors Begin to Swirl
A week ago, the Cleveland Indians appeared to be buyers as the July 31 st trade deadline approached, but after suffering an embarrassing three-game sweep by the lowly Minnesota Twins, the Indians now appear to be ready to sell off some of their talent to restock for the future yet again. Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo is reportedly being courted by both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Texas Rangers. The Pirates, who have posted 19 straight losing seasons, are currently leading the hunt for the National League Wild Card, and at just 3 games behind Cincinnati could easily win the Central Division with a little help from outside the organization. The Indians are reluctant to trade Choo for a couple of reasons, the first being that he has produced incredible results since moving to the lead-off spot for the club. They also rely on his excellent defense in the outfield, and he is also a fan favorite and allowing him to leave could hurt the club’s attendance for the rest of the season. Choo will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and his agent is Scott Boras, who will likely be looking for a much bigger contract than Cleveland will be able to offer him, so cutting ties with Choo right now and picking up a player or two in the process seems like the right move for the club to make.
Currently the Pirates appear to be offering up outfield prospect Starling Marte as part of a trade with the Indians. Marte was recently promoted from Triple-A and on Thursday the right hander took the first big league pitch he saw out of the ball park for a home run. He is hitting .222 (4 for 18) in his four games with the Pirates and hit .286 with 21 doubles, 13 triples, 12 homers, 62 RBIs and 21 steals for the Pirates’ Triple-A club in Indianapolis. Marte has been batting leadoff since his call-up, presumably to show the Indians that he has the ability to do so which may sweeten the deal for the ball club.
The Indians could be shopping more than just Choo as starting pitcher Justin Masterson, closer Chris Perez and utility man Jose Lopez are also rumored to be on the move. Among the teams looking at Lopez are the New York Yankees who are seeking a replacement for the injured Alex Rodriguez. Boston and Texas both had scouts in Minneapolis to see Masterson lay a monster of an egg in the Tribe’s 12-5 loss so his value could be dwindling given that he hasn’t pitched well since the All-Star break in general. Perez could fill any team’s relief needs as he is a proven closer with consecutive All-Star appearances and the Indians could land at least two major prospects if they let him go. The Tribe has a closer-in-waiting in Vinnie Pestano, so of all of the aforementioned names, Perez is the most likely to actually get traded before the 4:00pm deadline on Tuesday.
By Robert Gonzalez