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 White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.