Where there’s smoke, well, typically there’s fire.
Especially when it comes to a trade rumor regarding a team run by Kevin Towers.
During last week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Towers was rumored to be interested in a young shortstop, primarily Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians.
Tuesday night, Towers completed a multiplayer deal with the Indians for a shortstop, but it wasn’t Cabrera. The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson in a three-team deal with the Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
In return, the club traded pitching phenom and former No. 3 overall pick Trevor Bauer along with relievers Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers to Cleveland.
“We are very excited that we were able to acquire what we think is one of the premiere young shortstops in the game in Didi Gregorius,” Towers said in a conference call Tuesday night.
While he was thrilled to add at positions of need, Towers admitted there was a definite cost to making the deal.
“We had to move some good bullpen arms and one of our premiere arms in Trevor Bauer,” said Towers. “But, hopefully this is a deal that works for both Chris [Antonetti], Walt [Jocketty] and myself.”
Bauer, who was drafted in 2011 out of UCLA, pitched just 16 1/3 career innings with Arizona in 2012. He recorded a 1-2 record with a 6.06 ERA. While he did excel in the minors — winning the organization’s Pitcher of the Year award last season — the front office’s frustration over the 21-year-old’s perceived lack of maturity was apparent this off-season.
Speaking with Arizona Sports 620’s Burns & Gambo on October 3, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick was not bashful in his assessment of Bauer.
“I will say this: he is the employee, and in an employer/employee situation it’s incumbent on the employee to make adjustments to satisfy the needs of his employer,” Kendrick said. “And I hope and trust that that will occur.”
In return for Bauer, the D-backs have added a young, controllable shortstop to add even more depth at a position that already includes Cliff Pennington, John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist.
Gregorius, a 22-year-old Dutch shortstop, played in 129 games in the Cincinnati Reds organization last season. Between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville, Gregorius hit .265 with seven home runs, 54 RBI and 70 runs.
The native of Amsterdam was called up in September and batted .300 in 20 career plate appearances.
Going into the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked the defensive-minded Gregorius as the No. 8 prospect in the Reds’ farm system.
He is also already familiar with the Valley having played 15 games with the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League this year. He batted .284 with eight RBI.
Gregorius was acquired earlier in the evening from Cincinnati, as the Indians shipped off outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and infielder Jason Donald to the Reds.
Sipp also provides Towers and Co. with the big left-handed arm they were looking for to round out their deep bullpen. In 63 appearances, Sipp had 1-2 record with a 4.42 ERA in 2012.
Anderson was a 16th-round draft selection by the Boston Red Sox back in 2006 but has struggled in his limited big league opportunities. In 56 career plate appearances, Anderson has a .167 batting average with four RBI. He was called up in early April by the Red Sox last season but was traded to Cleveland in May to make room for prospect Will Middlebrooks.
In 18 games with Triple-A Columbus, Anderson had just 11 hits and seven RBI. Heading into spring training, he will likely compete for time backing up Paul Goldschmidt with fellow left-handed bats Eric Hinske and Kila Ka’aihue.
“We think we are a better ball club today and in the future for making this deal,” said Towers.
The other two pieces the D-backs gave up in the deal — Shaw and Albers — came out of an already right-handed heavy bullpen.
In parts of two seasons with Arizona, Shaw, a former second-round pick by the organization back in 2008, compiled a 2-6 record with a 3.18 ERA.
Albers was acquired at the trade deadline in a deal with the Red Sox that sent Craig Breslow to Boston. Albers made 23 appearances with the D-backs and had a 1-1 record with a 2.57 ERA.
The deal marks the second time in as many years Towers has parted with one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. Last December, Towers sent former first-round draft pick Jarrod Parker, Colin Cowgill and Ryan Cook to the Oakland Athletics for Trevor Cahill.