The Reds may be fixin’ to get a fair bit better in 2013, making the Cubs’ already unlikely chances of competing at the top of the NL Central slightly more unlikely.
According to Danny Knobler, the Reds and Indians are “deep in talks” on a deal that would send outfield Shin-Soo Choo and another player to the Reds for center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Didi Gregorius. Choo would play center for the Reds, Stubbs would move into the Indians’ outfield, and Gregorius would play short for the Indians, more freely allowing them to trade Asdrubal Cabrera. The Cubs were briefly attached to Choo earlier this offseason, but as a short-term piece that would require serious value in trade, he never made much sense for the Cubs.
Stubbs is a flawed player whose speed hasn’t allowed him to overcome contact deficiencies at the plate. Swapping him out for Choo would be, on paper, at least a couple win upgrade (Choo’s WAR was jacked up in 2012 because of an obviously messed-up defensive component) for the Reds in 2013, but it’s notable that Choo is under control for 2013 only. After that, he’s a free agent. So the Reds would be stepping it up in 2013 – and they were pretty damn good in 2012.
In the long run, it might be slightly worse for the Reds, losing Gregorius, who is a 22-year-old big league ready shortstop. He may not be a future star, but even an average, cost-controlled shortstop is a very valuable thing. Until we know the other player in the deal coming from the Indians, though, you can’t really call it a bad deal for either side. Right now, it’s just interesting.
If the deal goes through, setting aside the obvious NL Central implications, the Indians could start shopping Cabrera aggressively, which could have unforeseen effects on the market going forward (or they could shop Gregorius). In other words, this could be the first domino.