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Offseason: Shin-Soo Choo


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If we don't resign McLouth, I would like to find somebody who brings his combination of OBP and speed to bat leadoff. That's why I don't like Hart, Pence, Cruz etc. We are already leading the league in HRs. We don't need more power hitting OF types.

I really dislike Markakis in the top spot, I don't want to re-sign Roberts, and Schoop/Flaherty don't have the speed or OBP. It would be great if we could find somebody with better splits than McLouth who could bat leadoff all year.

That brings us back to Choo as a possibility, but he is probably not going to be affordable at the years/money we would want. Maybe Rajai Davis as a cheaper option?

I don't care about speed. I want someone really proficient in avoiding making outs batting leadoff.

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Following a trade for Drew Stubbs and shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius, Choo launched 21 homers and scored 107 runs at the top of Cincinnati's batting order. The most impressive development was his improved batting eye as he drew 112 walks in 712 plate appearances, a marked increased from 2012's 77 walks in 686 PAs. Yet, through all those times on base, Choo did not increase his steals total. He swiped 20 bases but also got caught a career-high 11 times, suggesting he may have lost a step or his baserunning instincts deteriorated somewhere along the trip from Cleveland.

Even more worrisome, Choo has always struggled to hit left-handed pitching. In his career, he has batted .309 against righties and just .243 against lefties. In 2013, left-handers held him to a sorry .215 average. If the Yankees' front office is thinking Choo could launch a ton of homers over the short porch in right field, they should bear in mind that he does most of his damage against right-handed pitching. Only 13 of his 104 career home runs have come courtesy of lefties.

The Bad: Choo's Glove

Choo patrolled right field for Cleveland in 2012 and moved to center with Cincinnati in 2013. Defensive versatility can be a vital asset, but, according to FanGraphs, his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, an advanced fielding metric) came in at minus-16.7 and minus-15.5, respectively, in those seasons.

A UZR of 15 is very good, zero is average; minus-15 is rotten, especially for an outfielder with speed. Looking to his DRS (defensive runs saved), Choo was just as bad with a minus-12 in 2012 and minus-17 in 2013. His dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) of minus-1.8 in 2013 ranked dead last among qualifying center fielders (via ESPN ). In 2012, only two qualifying right fielders posted a lower dWAR than Choo's minus-1.9.

Choo has an above-average throwing arm with below-average defensive instincts. Whether in right or in center field, he routinely fails to get a good read on the ball and takes poor routes, turning some singles into doubles. His surprisingly limited range is even more harmful in center field, essentially robbing him of any potential defensive dynamism. For a player with his speed and strong arm, Choo should be a marvel in the outfield, but he is in fact a defensive liability.

The Ugly: Negotiating with Scott Boras

The other problem is that Scott Boras is Choo's agent. He will seek to punish any and all interested suitors by jacking up his player's price using any means necessary. In 2011, the Washington Nationals gave Boras' client Jayson Werth a contract worth $126 million over seven years. According to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Boras will look to top that contract with Choo, even though the Werth deal was pretty obviously an ill-advised signing for the Nats.

In September, the San Francisco Giants gave Hunter Pence (not a Boras client) $90 million over the next five years. As tweeted by Mike Puma of the New York Post, " Boras is trying to push Choo as a $90 million player," because of course he is. In Puma's column in the Post, he quoted a "person with knowledge of the agent's discussions with teams" as saying, "I don't think the industry sees Choo as a $90 million player."

However, Boras has a habit of making people see things his way.

Between the comparisons to Werth and Pence, it seems clear that Boras is targeting at least five years for at least $18 million per year for Choo. That seems like way too much money for a poor fielder that can't hit lefties, and surely those millions could be better spent elsewhere. Another Boras client, Jacoby Ellsbury, is the real jewel in the crown of free agency after Robinson Cano. Other free agents are available who could be more attractive to teams looking for outfield help, including Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz, who would almost certainly command fewer years than Choo.


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The Os front office needs to relentlessly try to sign this guy in the offseason. Hes exactly what this offense is missing. He has a rediculous obp and also comes with 21 homeruns. Not only that he would be the perfect replacemebt for mcclouth in LF.

It's like we're the only ones who know about this guy or something.

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It's like we're the only ones who know about this guy or something.


From mlbtraderumors:

  • Don't count the Reds out in the bidding for Shin-Soo Choo, even though the price tag could exceed $100MM. Cincinnati believes Billy Hamilton is ready to handle center field defensively, but they'd prefer he get more time in the minors to further refine his offense. If they re-sign Choo, they can have him handle center field for one more year and maybe transition him to a corner in 2015, opening up a spot for the speedy Hamilton.
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