September 5, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) makes a catch of a ball hit by Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Could Shin-Soo Choo Be A Trade Target for the Rays?

After two consecutive years of starting off the season well and tanking down the stretch, the Cleveland Indians have decided to start over. Although Terry Francona has been brought in as manager, the Indians have all but announced that players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, and Chris Perez are available for trade. The caveat? The Indians, much like every team looking to trade their players, are looking to receive young starting pitching.

Naturally, the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the few teams with a possible surplus of young arms, would seem to be a potential trade partner. The Rays offensive woes in 2012 have been well chronicled, and the bats being made available would make an immediate impact upon the lineup. The Rays stable of young arms has been much discussed in trade rumours, and would likely generate plenty of interest should they become available.

While both players would likely be an upgrade over the presently constructed lineup, Caberea may not make a lot of sense for the Rays. Tampa tentatively has Ben Zobrist ready to man shortstop, which makes sense considering his excellent play there down the stretch. Second, one of the Rays top prospects happens to be Hak-Ju Lee, who may be ready to man the shortstop position by 2014. While Cabrera’s ability to play second as well as short would be greatly appreciated on a team like the Rays, he has not played second since 2009.

Meanwhile, Choo is entering his final arbitration year. After an injury marred 2011, he bounced back in a big way, batting .283/.373/.441 with 43 doubles, 16 home runs, and 21 stolen bases. After making $4.9Million last season, Choo is expected to earn approximately $8Million this season. While that number would be high for the Rays, it would fill the payroll spot formerly held by Carlos Pena, so it may not be prohibitive.

Choo would likely provide another impact bat in the lineup. His power and speed combination would play directly into the Rays ideals for their hitters, and he could even potentially slot in as a number two hitter behind Desmond Jennings. With Jennings and Choo at the top of their lineup, the Rays may have a much better opportunity to score runs than last season. Choo has also been an excellent defensive player over the years, as he has consistently ranked amongst the league leaders in range factor, fielding percentage, and outfield assists.

Of the potential outfielders available in trade, Shin-Soo Choo may be one of the top players on the block. Plugging Choo into the lineup would likely help solidify the Rays both offensively and defensively, and may be a key piece in the Rays returning to the playoffs.

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Tags: Cleveland Indians Shin-Soo Choo Tampa Bay Rays

3 Comments on Could Shin-Soo Choo Be A Trade Target for the Rays?

  1. Jason Nereim says:

    The problem here lies in the fact that Choo is a corner outfielder. If the Rays were to trade for Upton, under control for 3 more years, you do what you have to do even if that means moving Joyce to first base. I’m still not convinced Jennings has the arm for center, instead wanting to see one of Melky or Coco roaming center in 2013. However Choo is a Rays type of player and the type I would like to see the Rays lock him up for 3 years, maybe 3/27? I’d be interested to see what it would take, maybe Alex Torres or Caesar Ramos plus another lower level arm.

    • Robbie_Knopf says:

      The phrase “arm for center” doesn’t make much sense. You can get away with less arm in centerfield as long as you have speed. Joyce could play left field with Choo in right and Jennings in center, and the Rays would have a defensive outfield. Speaking of Joyce at first base, he worked out there last offseason, and if the Rays have an outfield surplus, he could very well end up there.

      About a trade package for Choo, that package you listed won’t be enough (Torres has upside but is super inconsistent and Ramos still hasn’t proved he’s anything more than a lefty long reliever), but maybe it could be a package headlined by someone like Alex Colome to go along with someone like Tim Beckham and a prospect with some upside in the low minors.

    • Dave Hill says:

      Johnny Damon didn’t have a great arm, but he managed to patrol center for over a decade. I think the Rays are more likely to attempt to acquire a center fielder either through trade or by taking a flyer on a free agent, such as Melky Cabrera.

      As you said, Choo is a Rays type of player. It would be quite fitting if they were to somehow acquire him.

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