MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Indians have acquired outfielder Michael Choice from the Rangers. The Rangers will receive cash considerations from the Indians, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Choice will report to Triple-A Columbus.
Choice had been designated for assignment by the Rangers on Tuesday to clear roster space for Will Venable. The 25-year-old was considered a top-100 prospect in baseball as recently as the beginning of the 2014 season, earning a #72 ranking from MLB.com, #79 from Baseball Prospectus, and #98 from Baseball America. However, he posted a .570 OPS in 280 plate appearances in the majors last season and continued to struggle in 2015 at Triple-A Round Rock, batting .244/.309/.399 with 12 home runs and 60 RBI.
Choice was taken in the first round (10th overall) by the Athletics in the 2010 draft, then traded to the Rangers along with Chris Bostick in December 2013 for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.