Trades of Two Cities: Did the Reds get the Better of the Indians Again?
Intrastate rivals like the Indians and Reds generally don’t make the most common or realistic trade partners. It may be because a bad trade can hit a little too close to home or maybe there’s just a little too much state pride to deal with the neighboring club. Whatever it is, the two Ohio clubs have broken that status quo in the past couple of decades, and adding in the early returns of their most recent trade, it looks like the Reds may be continuing the trend of getting the better end of those deals.
To put the dealings of the Ohio Cup participants in perspective, in MLB since 1990, the Yankees-Mets have made 5 deals; Cubs-White Sox 4; and the A’s-Giants – 2. In the same time period the Reds and Indians have made 13 swaps, including the most recent three team trade which sent OF Shin-Soo Choo and INF Jason Donald to the Reds from the Indians with the Tribe receiving OF Drew Stubbs from the Reds as well as Pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers, and Bryan Shaw from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Many don’t know, however, that this trade made in 2013 was set in motion over a decade ago with another move made between the two clubs.
In 2002 Shin-Shoo Choo was 19 and in his second year of professional baseball in America, splitting time between Mariner’s minor league affiliates Low A level Wisconsin and Advanced A level San Bernardino. Drew Stubbs was in high school prepping for an All-American collegiate career at the University of Texas and Trevor Bauer was 11 years old and more than likely starting a three-hour warm-up routine before stepping on a mound in Little League. But it was the Reds dealing of mild-hitting minor league 1st baseman Ben Broussard for the Indians masher and strikeout king Russell Branyan in 2002 that kicked off this most recent trade.
Russell Branyan would hit 25 home runs for the Reds in parts of two seasons, the highlight being a 3-homer game against the Padres at home. Ben Broussard would go on to have four-and-half fairly productive seasons for the Indians, making the Tribe the clear winners in this head to head deal. However, it was their flip of Broussard to Seattle for upcoming Shin-Soo Choo in 2006 that would put a key piece in play for their 2013 trade with the Reds. With Choo’s ability to create runs so far this season, and uncertainty with Stubbs, Bauer, and the rest of the Tribe's trade return, the Broussard/Branyan trade could be seen by some as another Reds win in their recent long list of trades. Here’s a look at some of the others...
1991 – Indians get RHPs Joe Turek, Jack Armstrong, and Scott Scudder. Reds get LHP Greg Swindell
Turek would never reach the majors, while Jack Armstrong and Scott Scudder would both go on to lose double digit games in their lone full seasons as Indians starters. Swindell would only stay a year in Cincinnati, but he was able to post a 12-8 record with a career low ERA as a starter of 2.70
1997 – Indians get LHP John Smiley and INF Jeff Branson. Reds get RHPs Danny Graves, Scott Winchester, LHP Jim Crowell and INF Damian Jackson
Smiley put a monster 20 win season together earlier in his career with Pittsburgh and was serviceable as a member of the Reds rotation, but would go on to win just 2 games as a member of the Tribe calling it a career after his lone season with the team at the age of 32. Jeff Branson was a descent utility man, but Danny Graves is still the Reds all time saves leader with 185.
1998- Indians get RHP Dave Burba. Reds get 1B Sean Casey.
This may be the most even transaction made by the two clubs, Burba would go on to have three seasons of 15 or more wins, topping out with 16 victories in 2000. Casey however, would have 3 All-Star seasons including a year of 25 HR, 99 RBI and a batting average of .332. The outgoing, fan-favorite 1st baseman would eventually become known as the Mayor of Cincinnati.
2000- Indians get C Eddie Taubensee. Reds get RHPs Robert Pugmire and Jim Brower.
Brower would have a couple solid if unspectacular seasons in Cincinnati before being jettisoned to Montreal for the prospect that was LHP Bruce Chen. Taubensee started his career with the Indians and was a part of the trade that brought Kenny Loften to town in the early 90s, but his return to the Indians wouldn’t last long with just once season hitting .250 in 52 games before retiring.
2002 – Indians get Ben Broussard. Reds get Russell Branyan.
Advantage: Indians…for now.
2006 – Indians get ( the dreaded) Player To Be Named Later. Reds get 2B Brandon Phillips
One of the prizes of the Bartolo Colon trade with Montreal was young shortstop Brandon Phillips, who was supposed to be next in line after Omar Vizquel to take over the shortstop position in Cleveland. Phillips floundered in parts of 4 seasons with the Tribe, who eventually elected to keep 29 year old journeyman infielder Ramon Vazquez on their roster as a utility infielder and send Phillips to the Reds for the PTBNL. Phillips has gone on so far to record a 30HR-30SB season, 3 gold gloves, 2 All-Star appearances, 1 Silver Slugger and just re-signed for 6 more seasons with the Reds. The player to be named for the Indians: RHP Jeff Stevens, who worked a 6.37 ERA in 33 career games…all for the Chicago Cubs.
2013 – Indians get OF Drew Stubbs (Reds) RHP Trevor Bauer (ARZ), Matt Albers (ARZ), and Bryan Shaw (ARZ). Reds get OF Shin-Soo Choo and INF Jason Donald.
So far Choo has been everything the Reds wanted and needed in a leadoff hitter. He’s currently hitting .324 with an NL leading .462 OBP, which is aided by the fact that he was hit by a pitch 10 times in April alone! The Reds portion of the trade going to the Indians, Drew Stubbs, has been a mild addition so far to the lineup hitting .253 with 2 HR and 8RBI and striking out 27 times so far this season. Trevor Bauer, who came from the Diamondbacks, will likely be the key piece that determines the outcome of this trade. Bauer is just 22 years old and has already been in the majors for parts of two seasons. So far he has been a part of 3 roster transactions this season, has a 1-1 record with a 2.70 ERA this season. A history of control problems and a knack for hard-headedness will likely be the hurdles he needs to clear to keep his career path heading north. Again, on the other side, all indications are that this is likely going to be Choo’s only season as a Red. He’ll be a free agent for the first time after this season, added together with his agent being Scott Boras (who is known to push the boundries to get the most money for his clients) and the fact that speedster Billy Hamilton is waiting in the wings (pun intended) playing for the Louisville bats, Choo likely will be in a different uniform in 2014.
Advantage: Reds…for now.
So when it comes to teams trading within state, the Reds and Indians have set the bar for throwing caution to the wind. And, maybe much more to the delight of Reds fans at this point, it is another element which can stir up home team pride and bring a rivalry closer together for the teams and the fans. Recent history favors the Reds, but the jury may still be out for a long while on their most recent trade. Fans will get a head-to-head look at familiar faces in new places at the end of May, when the Reds and Indians get together for a four-game set which will split locations at two home games apiece.
- Koby Doughty, AKA Dashing Cody Rhodes