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Choo shipped to Cincinnati

Choo Shin-soo (left) batted .283 with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs last season. (File photo)
Choo Shin-soo (left) batted .283 with 16 home runs and 67 RBIs last season. (File photo)
South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians in Major League Baseball has been traded to the Cincinnati Reds, the teams said Wednesday, Korean time.

The Indians dealt Choo and infielder Jason Donald to the Reds as part of a three-team, nine-player trade that also involved the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange, the Reds sent center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Didi Gregorius to Cleveland.

The Indians then shipped Gregorius, pitcher Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to the Diamondbacks for pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw.

Choo, 30, had been subject of trade rumors all winter. He becomes a free agent after next season, and the Indians, rather than risk losing him for nothing to free agency, had been seeking to trade him in exchange for players.

The deal ends Choo’s seven-season stint with the Indians, a team he joined in a midseason trade from the Seattle Mariners in 2006.

He debuted with the Mariners in 2005 but toiled mostly in the minors in the organization before blossoming as a full-time major league outfielder in Cleveland.

Choo enjoyed his best seasons with the Indians in 2009 and 2010, putting together back-to-back “20-20” seasons with at least 20 home runs and 20 steals. He also batted .300 in each of those two seasons.

After an injury-plagued 2011 season limited him to just 85 games and eight homers, Choo bounced back in 2012 with 16 home runs, 67 RBIs, 21 steals and a .283 batting average in 155 games.

Choo, who batted mostly third in the lineup in recent seasons, appeared as the leadoff man in 99 games this year.

At the top of the order, Choo had 12 homers and 13 steals along with a .310 batting average and a .389 on-base percentage, higher than his season on-base percentage of .373.

After the end of this season, Choo told South Korean media that he would like to play on a “winning ball club.” The Indians have not been to the playoffs since 2007 and finished fourth among five teams in the American League Central Division this year.

The Reds, on the other hand, took the National League Central Division title with a 97-65 record, before losing to the eventual World Series champions, the San Francisco Giants, in the playoffs.

They also made the postseason in 2010.

The Reds have been looking for a leadoff hitter, and Choo may fit the bill, bringing some gap power and speed to the top of the lineup.

Cincinnati has plenty of power in the heart of the order, with 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto, and All-Stars Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips.

Choo will likely take over as the center fielder in Stubbs’ absence. Choo has mostly played in right field and has played only 10 games in center for Cleveland, none since 2009.

Choo, who made $4.9 million in 2012, will now play in the National League for the first time in his career. He could also face fellow South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, who recently signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

According to the 2013 schedule, the Reds and the Dodgers will play each other seven times. The Reds will travel to Los Angeles from July 25-28, and from Sept. 6-8, they will host the Dodgers for three games.

The last pitcher-batter duel between South Koreans in the majors came on July 29, 2010, in Cleveland, between Choo of the Indians and pitcher Park Chan-ho of the New York Yankees. Choo went down swinging against the recently retired right-hander. 

(Yonhap News)
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