ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported last week that the Indians are listening to offers on outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who’ll be entering his final year of arbitration in 2013 before hitting free agency leading into 2014.
And now the Tribe might have a legitimate suitor.
According to beat writer Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates have expressed recent interest in acquiring Choo to bolster their lineup and play left field. But word is it might take Starling Marte to pluck him from Cleveland.
Marte, 23, got promoted to the major leagues on Thursday and homered on the first pitch of his career. The Pirates’ top offensive prospect was batting .286/.347/.500 with 12 home runs, 21 doubles, 13 triples and 21 stolen bases in 431 plate appearances at Triple-A Indianapolis before his call-up.
The second-place Pirates have already acquired left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros, but they need to improve an offense that has scored 87 fewer runs than the third-place Cardinals in order to stay in the mix for a postseason spot. The Bucs do currently lead the NL Wild Card chase.
Choo, a 30-year-old native of South Korea, has an .871 OPS and 12 homers in 96 games this season.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.