According to Jon Heyman, the Cleveland Indians are not opposed to trading some of their best players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Chris Perez. But the one player the Mets should have on their radar is outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
Now that the Mets have rid themselves of the always hustling but never producing Jason Bay, they're going into the 2013 season with no one in particular in left, your guess is as good as mine in center, and some combination of Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Scott Hairston (if he's re-signed) and the right field ball boy in right. Needless to say, the Mets have a big mess in the outfield. However, some of that mess could be cleaned up if Sandy Alderson can find the right combination of players to offer Indians general manager Chris Antonetti for Shin-Soo Choo.
The 30-year-old Choo will be a free agent following the 2013 season, but he's still worth the risk. Just look at his numbers over the last three full seasons he's played (injuries limited Choo to 85 games in 2011):
- 2009: .300 batting average, .394 OBP, 38 doubles, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 87 runs, 21 SB
- 2010: .300 batting average, .401 OBP, 31 doubles, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 81 runs, 22 SB
- 2012: .283 batting average, .373 OBP, 43 doubles, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 88 runs, 21 SB
- Average: .294 batting average, .389 OBP, 37 doubles, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 85 runs, 21 SB
In addition to his high on-base percentage and 20 HR/20 SB potential, Choo's arm also has to respected in the outfield. The rightfielder has tallied 41 outfield assists since 2009 despite missing 108 games (77 of them coming in 2011).
Although he is a solid player, Choo is not an All-Star, and would not require a top prospect to pry him away from the Indians. A combination of mid-level prospects or a prospect and a major league-ready role player would probably suffice. Heck, the Mets could even offer Lucas Duda in the deal, especially since Duda could play first base or be the Indians' DH. Duda would be a vast improvement over Cleveland's first base/DH combo from 2012, Casey Kotchman (.228/.280/.333, 12 HR, 55 RBI) and Travis Hafner (.228/.346/.438, 12 HR, 34 RBI), plus Duda would be under club control through the 2016 season, whereas Kotchman and Hafner are both free agents.
Other teams would probably also be in the hunt for Choo's services, but Sandy Alderson has already gone on the record saying that he would like to improve the Mets with trades rather than free agent acquisitions. And with Choo earning $4.9 million in 2012, he would not be an expensive option for the Mets, even with a slight raise in 2013.
The Mets have not been very consistent in the outfield over the past few years. But Shin-Soo Choo has been one of the most consistent outfielders over his last three full seasons in the majors. With Choo, you know what you're going to get. He's not going to be among the league leaders in any category, but he's going to give you solid production across the board. When was the last time the Mets could say that about any of their outfielders?
Shin-Soo Choo should be in orange and blue in 2013. The Mets need his kind of stability and consistency to rub off on the rest of the team.