Tribe ships Broussard to M's for Choo

Tribe ships Broussard to Seattle for Choo

CLEVELAND -- The Indians continued their midseason swapping spree after Wednesday's game, shipping first baseman Ben Broussard and cash to the Mariners for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and a player to be named later.

Shin-Soo who? Choo, that's who. He'll be the Tribe's new starting right fielder against right-handed pitching.

"This player is a good complement to our team as it exists now and going forward, as well," general manager Mark Shapiro said of Choo. "From a versatility standpoint, he's going to give us a lot of flexibility as we plan, going forward."

The versatility Choo provides comes from his ability to play all three outfield spots.

And current right fielder Casey Blake is versatile as well, which is why the Indians will move him to first base on days Choo starts. Catcher Victor Martinez will continue to get the starts at first against left-handed pitching.

"I think that's one of the reasons we did the deal is we've got a lot of versatility with how we approach the offseason," Shapiro said. "One of the things that makes Casey so valuable beyond his offensive year is his versatility. It's something we planned to tap into next season, and this trade will force us to do it a little quicker."

The 24-year-old Choo has spent the majority of this year at Triple-A Tacoma, where he's hit .323 with 21 doubles, three triples, 13 homers and 48 RBIs.

He first caught the eye of the Mariners in 2000, when he was named the MVP of the World Junior Championship -- as a pitcher. The Mariners signed him to a $1.3 million contract and placed him in their Minor League system, where he's hit fairly well while ironing out his defensive skills.

"He's a plus athlete with an above-average arm," Shapiro said. "He was a pitcher that threw in the 90s. His arm is well-above average. There have been some inconsistencies with his defensive play. There could be some challenges initially, which is why we want to get him here now. Certainly, he has the athleticism, speed and arm to be an above-average corner outfielder."

As for his bat, the left-handed Choo, like Broussard, has always been strongest against right-handers.

"This guy's hit every single place he's been," Shapiro said of Choo. "He has gap power, above-average, raw power. He's hit right-handed pitching extremely well every place he's been."

Choo, a native of Korea who was named the seventh-best prospect in the Mariners organization by Baseball America earlier this year, has also stolen 26 bases in 30 attempts this year. Shapiro said he'll be a base-stealing threat in the vein of Grady Sizemore, who's good for 20-some steals a year.

At the time of the trade, Choo ranked ninth in the Pacific Coast League in average, second in hits (121), second in stolen bases and fifth in runs scored (70).

"He'll complement our existing group and give us something we don't have in [Triple-A] Buffalo," Shapiro said. "He's a guy who can contribute for years to come and is ready to play now."

To get Choo, the Indians had to give up Broussard in the middle of what's been a fine season for the first baseman.

Shapiro had called this a "make-or-break" year for Broussard last winter, and the first baseman responded with perhaps his most consistent offensive year. He's hit .321 with 13 homers and 46 RBIs in 88 games.

But Broussard's playing time against left-handed pitchers was once again severely limited -- first because of a platoon with Eduardo Perez, who was also traded to the Mariners on June 30 -- then by the Indians giving starts at first to Martinez.

"Benny's a guy that's always had streaks where he's shown his potential," Shapiro said. "This year, he's really been focused and concentrated. He made sure he's getting the most out of his ability. It's a credit to the work he's put in and the mental approach he put into this season. I still think he's just scratching the surface of his potential."

Now he'll scratch it with the Mariners, and he won't have to go too far. The Mariners and Indians both have Thursday off before facing each other at Jacobs Field in a three-game set that begins Friday.

Shapiro said six teams were interested in Broussard, with negotiations getting serious with two clubs.

"I went into this trading deadline believing Ben would have the same role next year as he does this year," Shapiro said. "The nature of the deadline is you get a lot of calls. When you get the calls, you examine whether the right value is there."

As for the value of the player to be named, Shapiro wouldn't say what level the prospect will come from. The Tribe will select the player from a list supplied by the Mariners no later than Aug. 31.

"The value equation to every trade is always very precise," Shapiro said. "The second player is meaningful. He has value. Choo is the key component to the trade, but the second player is a key component, as well."

The Indians have until 4 p.m. ET on Monday to make any more trades, and Shapiro couldn't say for certain whether his club is done dealing.

"I didn't anticipate this move, so it's hard for me to say," Shapiro said. "The trade deadline is always an active period of time with conversations between teams. Whenever you have those conversations going, there's always the possibility. The bulk of the conversations we're having are ones we'll probably not consummate, but we're gauging teams that have interest in our players."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.