Reds - General

Jocketty lands elite lead-off hitter: Meet Shin Soo Choo

Our long lead-off nightmare is over.

Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Reds GM Walt Jocketty has traded Drew Stubbs and Didi Gregorius for Cleveland outfielder Shin Soo Choo and utility IF Jason Donald [update: plus $3.5 million to the Reds].

Here’s the most important thing you need to know about the Reds’ new acquisition:

.307/.386/.486

That’s Choo’s record in 461 plate appearances batting lead-off for Cleveland, mostly last year. It closely tracks his career numbers overall: .289/.381/.465.

I didn’t double-check his math, but John Fay calculates that Choo’s higher OBP will result in reaching base 105 times more than Reds lead-off hitters accomplished in 2012. JoeyMVP smiles at that statistic. The Reds lead-off hitters managed .208/.254/.327 last season. (Mike Leake’s OBP was .309.)

Biography Shin Soo Choo is 30 years old. He bats and throws left-handed. He’s from Pusan, South Korea and was signed by the Seattle Mariners in August, 2000. In July 2006, he was traded to Cleveland for Ben Broussard. Choo led the South Korean team to the gold medal in the 2010 Asian Games, earning himself and all his teammates an exemption from their nation’s mandatory military service requirement.

Contract Status: Choo will be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. Last year, in his second year of arbitration he earned $4.6 million.  Matt Schwartz at MLBTR estimates that Choo will earn $7.9 million via arbitration this year. Drew Stubbs was estimated to make $2.9 million. Choo’s agent is Scott Boras.

Power Stats: Excluding his injury shortened 2011 season, Choo has averaged 19 home runs and 37 doubles since 2009.  Last season he was 10th in all of baseball with 43 doubles. Choo’s career ISO (isolated power, the difference between his AVG and SLG) is .176. MLB average ISO is .151. Choo gives the Reds another powerful left-handed bat in the lineup. And batting first, there’s no risk of the streams crossing with any other Reds LH hitter.

Stolen bases: Again, excluding 2011, Choo has averaged 21 SB and 5 CS since 2009.

Plate Discipline: Shin Soo Choo’s walk-rate is 11.4% – well above the league average of 8.4%. He sees an average of 3.97 pitches per plate appearance with the MLB average being 3.79 PPA.

Clutchiness: Choo’s hitting with RISP: .289/.374/.466.  This one makes Marty happy, but the rest of you should ignore it.

Yes, there are plenty of legitimate concerns. Choo will probably only be with the Reds for one year (but what a wonderful contract year it could be). He hasn’t really played much CF in the past half decade and he may have lost a step on defense at that. A few balls that Drew Stubbs would have caught in the alley will go for doubles. Choo’s once-feared arm may have dropped off a bit last year. What now if Zack Cozart gets hurt?

But for now, just think of that sweet, sweet OBP batting first and getting the most AB for your Cincinnati Reds.

 

140 thoughts on “Jocketty lands elite lead-off hitter: Meet Shin Soo Choo

    • Wow. Rosenthal: The Indians are also sending the Reds $3.5 million to pay the salary difference between Stubbs and Choo. That will pay for a great fourth OF. Nice.

      Wow. The Indians really must have wanted Bauer. I don’t blame them.

    • Wow. Rosenthal: The Indians are also sending the Reds $3.5 million to pay the salary difference between Stubbs and Choo. That will pay for a great fourth OF. Nice.

      We already have solid 4th and 5th outfielders in Heisey and Paul, don’t we?

  1. The sad fact is that the Reds, if they make the postseason, will have only a slightly higher chance to win the World Series as they did this year. That’s just the nature of the postseason.

    However, if this team makes the postseason, and they have to be the favorite to at least get the wild card (I suppose the Cards could be very good also), if they go in healthy with that rotation and that lineup, teams are going to be scared of them.

    • Is there a chance that Walt instructs Hamilton to play both SS and CF in the spring and at AAA to prepare for a second half/postseason utility/pinch runner position on the roster?

      No. They already started his conversion and they don’t have a leadoff hitter or centerfielder for 2014 while Cozart will remain under team control to play shortstop. I believe that part of the idea of converting him to CF was accelerating his progress towards the majors (focusing on hitting rather than crummy fielding errors at shortstop).

      The sad fact is that the Reds, if they make the postseason, will have only a slightly higher chance to win the World Series as they did this year.That’s just the nature of the postseason.

      However, if this team makes the postseason, and they have to be the favorite to at least get the wild card (I suppose the Cards could be very good also), if they go in healthy with that rotation and that lineup, teams are going to be scared of them.

      SSSHHHHHH. Cross that bridge when we come to it.

  2. The Indians STOLE Bauer from the D-backs. It’s hilarious. First Dayton Moore, now Towers. Not only did they get Bauer, they also got two excellent relievers. For Gregorius and two nonfactors. Wow.

    • The Indians STOLE Bauer from the D-backs. It’s hilarious. First Dayton Moore, now Towers. Not only did they get Bauer, they also got two excellent relievers. For Gregorius and two nonfactors. Wow.

      I don’t know much about Sipp or Anderson, but unless they’re really good, the DBacks made a bad deal.

  3. Cleveland and Cincinnati share the spring training stadium in Goodyear, AZ and because of that they play each other a half dozen times or more. The trade should make those games a bit more interesting, not to mention the four Ohio Cup games in the regular season.

  4. I absolutely love this deal. Why?
    –I needed Stubbs gone yesterday.
    –Takes pressure off Cozart. He can move down in the order, possibly bat 8th, and increase his walk rate.
    –Didi’s minor league hitting numbers closely resemble Pokey Reese. All glove, no bat. I can live with losing that.
    –Jason Donald has hit all thru the minor leagues. He’s a big time upgrade to Valdez and is pre-arb.
    –The lineup has finally been Dusty-proofed.
    –It takes the pressure off management to rush Hamilton. More ABs in the minors will pay dividends. We’ll see him on the playoff roster stealing bases.
    –3 balls every 2 games. That’s how little a CF is called upon to play defense on average. We’ll be fine with Bruce or Choo out there. The offensive upgrade is tremendous.

    Great job Walt!!!

  5. Is there a chance that Walt instructs Hamilton to play both SS and CF in the spring and at AAA to prepare for a second half/postseason utility/pinch runner position on the roster?

  6. For those of us on the left coast- let’s think of the number of times Votto is batting with men in scoring position. Who takes the over and under for the half season? I’ll take my birth year- 64. His numbers and Bruce’s will be unreal. Hello Cincy we have a very good team. BOOOYAHHHH

  7. wait wait wait rotoworld.com is reporting something different??? : Reds acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo, INF/OF Jason Donald and cash, Indians acquired RHPs Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers and Diamondbacks acquired SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Tony Sipp and 1B Lars Anderson in a three-team trade

    did you guys mention bauer?

  8. i’m just confused: no mention of stubbs. that’s all and i’m sorry i now remember bauer is D-backs pitcher

  9. Got to say it looks like Uncle Walt got most of the Reds needs pretty much done for now. Even if Choo or Bruce struggles some in center, you still got Heisey for late game defensive swaps.

    I think the only that would be nice to get is a left handed bat with some pop for the bench and maybe Xavier Paul can handle it as well as he did last year.

    I wish good luck to Drew Stubbs, it didn’t pan out at the plate, but I think he came to play and he did provide a few exciting moments over the past few years. Reds castaways have had a pretty good run of luck of late, even ole’ Eddie finally figured it out at the plate in Toronto (although the Jays got smart and let him just hit or play first most of the time taking that long throw out of the equasion).

  10. The happiest person on the planet right now is no doubt Bronson Arroyo, not having to face Choo in 2013.

  11. I loved watching Stubbs play CF and Gregorius is otherworldly as a defensive SS, but as they say, “You’ve got to give up something …” Best of luck to both of them, they seemed like good guys.

    • I loved watching Stubbs play CF and Gregorius is otherworldly as a defensive SS, but as they say, “You’ve got to give up something …” Best of luck to both of them, they seemed like good guys.

      This pretty much expresses my feelings too. Like I said 10 days ago when Bailey’s name name up in rumors, sometimes you have to do what you have to do (trading Gregorius) to get what you need to get.

      Playing on a team that us going to be using a DH nearly all the time, Stubbs may be a serviceable guy; but I would not be surprised to see Gregorius emerge as a premier SS in several years (remember he is only 22/23).

      With the core talent WJ has traded away in the last two years (Alonso, Grandal, Boxberger, Gregorious; and a person could even make a case for including Wood and Sappelt, the Reds best start moving beyond losing in the first round of the playoffs or there should be hard accounting for his actions.

    • I loved watching Stubbs play CF and Gregorius is otherworldly as a defensive SS, but as they say, “You’ve got to give up something …” Best of luck to both of them, they seemed like good guys.

      I have finals tomorrow as well, but I have to grade them and then figure out grades. I may not be able to concentrate for several days.

      Gregorius is not otherwordly as a SS, his best attribute is his bat, not his glove. i have no doubt he will improve, but he is not as good as Cozart at SS. Taking Cozart off the lead off spot will help him with his hitting. I am thinking 7 or 8.

  12. Getting a leadoff hitter with pop, who would have thought ?

    The lineup has been Dusty-proofed, except for on day games after nite games. We don’t know who the bench players are yet.

    • Cossack:I’m wondering about this part of it too. The Reds might have to rethink where Bruce plays. Jay in CF and Choo in RF might be best.

      Ah, the controversy Dusty Baker now face for spring training. I expect they’d make a final decision in the spring.

      The lineup has been Dusty-proofed, except for on day games after nite games. We don’t know who the bench players are yet.

      I think we have a general idea of who the bench players are – Jason Donald is the backup shortstop. Xavier Paul, Chris Heisey, and Devin Mesoraco are returning. The final spot (1b/3b) has apparently been offered to Jack Hannahan, if he wants it. Or Emmanual Burriss.

      As far as day games after night games, wasn’t Scott Rolen the only guy who took those off? Choo can apparently be counted on for 155 games a year and all the other guys should hopefully be pretty consistent.

      • Redsfanman: As far as day games after night games, wasn’t Scott Rolen the only guy who took those off?Choo can apparently be counted on for 155 games a year and all the other guys should hopefully be pretty consistent.

        Scott Rolen was the only guy who regularly took off the “day after nite” game, but there were often 3-4 backups, including Cairo and Valdez, for those games. Dusty’s giving the regulars a day off now and then is a good thing, can’t argue with it. But a number of times in 2012 he gave a bunch of them a day off on the same day.

  13. Excellent trade. I’m all for keeping Choo if he can get a real agent and fire that hack Boras. I’m reading a lot about Jason Donald being a throw in on this trade. He’s hardly that. He’s an outstanding defensive player who has actually put up great offensive numbers in the minors. Cleveland never gave him a particular position and he never got regular playing time. Check the minor league stats folks. He was sent to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee deal and was a 3rd round draft pick of the Phillies. Great insurance for 3B/SS if Frazier or Cozart struggle. Good baseball trade!!!

  14. I like it. Not perfect, but few things are in life. If Didi had one more year in at AAA, if it could have come after next season, Hamilton may need as many as two seasons.

    As far as the quality of play, we lose some D in CF, but we gain a lot on offense. Expect some more balls to reach more walls, ladies and gentlemen. But, also, you may expect Votto to get well over 100 RBI’s, if not 120 RBI’s.

    I would prefer to have a 4 hole hitter, but I will take it.

    Trying to consider “if” we can sign Choo. Let’s see. Bronson and Masset would come off the books. There is that part about deferred monies for Bronson, but I couldn’t find anything. And, on baseball-reference.com, they actually have Votto taking a pay cut for 2014 of $5 million. Anyone thing we would try to use some of this money for Choo after this season?

  15. @pinson343: Happy nothing. It’s one thing to rake off a guy, but it’s a whole ‘nother matter to steal all his double ear-flap batting helmets. O-dog to round out our bench?

    Good luck to Drew Stubbs, it was really fun for me to watch him run. Living up here on the North Coast, I won’t mind catching him patrol center.

  16. @ToddAlmighty:
    That’s funny!

    Seriously, three times this last season, at games I attended, I saw Drew Stubbs make a spectacular catch on a ball hit in front of him that he started to back up on.

    Yeah, he’s fast, really fast but his baseball IQ is up there with Jamarcus Russel’s football IQ.

  17. Reds need a lefty reliever…the only one left is the setup guy.

    Something tells me that Walt isn’t done…:)

    • @steveschoen: No, I don’t see any chance of extending Choo. He’s a one year stopgap until Billy Hamilton is ready (who will provide draft pick compensation when he leaves as a free agent), nothing more. I think Jocketty shot down the possibility of him being extended. In 2014 Choo is likely to get a lot of money and a long term deal to play a corner outfield spot, which I doubt the Reds can offer.

      Reds need a lefty reliever…the only one left is the setup guy.

      Something tells me that Walt isn’t done…:)

      With six guys (with real chances of getting a job) competing for five rotation spots there’s still a real chance that Chapman could return to the bullpen. Jocketty almost has to trade Todd Redmond at some point – he’s pretty worthless except as trade bait. Maybe he’ll be moved for a lefty reliever.

      • @steveschoen: No, I don’t see any chance of extending Choo.He’s a one year stopgap until Billy Hamilton is ready (who will provide draft pick compensation when he leaves as a free agent), nothing more.I think Jocketty shot down the possibility of him being extended.In 2014 Choo is likely to get a lot of money and a long term deal to play a corner outfield spot, which I doubt the Reds can offer.

        But, then, what if Hamilton isn’t quite ready? A season is awful quick for a player learning a new position to get from AA to major league ball. We would have to do this all over again next off season. And, there is no guarantee Hamilton will develop at all past AA.

        Whether we keep him or not, I still think a good trade. I sort of hope we can get him for one more year anyhow, maybe even longer. Then, Ludwick’s contract is up, and we could move Choo back to a corner. By that time, Hamilton could be ready.

        • Another question is whether BP or Cozart bats #2.

          WJ’s statement referred to BP as one of the “run producers” in the line up. That hints at slotting him 6th or perhaps alternating him between 5th and 6th depending on whether they are facing a righty starter or a lefty starter.

          Phillips frequently alternates between roles – anywhere from 1st to 4th in the order, when needed. I really doubt he’d move lower. I assume Jocketty was referring to Phillips producing runs by driving in Shoo and getting on base before Votto.

          But, then, what if Hamilton isn’t quite ready?A season is awful quick for a player learning a new position to get from AA to major league ball.We would have to do this all over again next off season.And, there is no guarantee Hamilton will develop at all past AA.

          Whether we keep him or not, I still think a good trade.I sort of hope we can get him for one more year anyhow, maybe even longer.Then, Ludwick’s contract is up, and we could move Choo back to a corner.By that time, Hamilton could be ready.

          If Hamilton isn’t ready next year I guess they pursue another one year stopgap solution. Maybe Brodie Green (who?) can build up crazy trade value like Didi Gregorius did. Maybe a free agent. Maybe Stubbs will not be tendered a contract.

  18. @rfay00: They also need a back up catcher/ tandem mate for Hanigan. There is no reason to believe Mesoraco will suddenly start doing the job without a stint in AAA to rediscover himself.

  19. Does Redleg Nation Radio get a podcast regarding Shin Shoo Choo’s acquisition and it’s meaning for the Reds? I hope so.

  20. @rhayex: I’m not sure about all 3 years of team control for Stubbs…yes, they have the 3 years, but he’s a good non-tender candidate the last 2 of those seasons if he cannot get his offensives numbers up.

  21. When Mo mentioned the rumor at 4:30 this afternoon I gasped in excitement. It sounded so good I thought it was a wild rumor. It’s a great deal for both the Reds and Indians. Arizona is the lesser winner IMO.

    Anyway, item number one on Mr Jocketty’s checklist:

    Dusty-proof the lineup….. Check

  22. It will be interesting to see how Dusty will manage his end game without a true CF and presumably without Chapman closing. Heisey and Broxton are credible in those roles at the end of a game but not I think in the same class as Stubbs and Chapman.

  23. JBruce was looking tentative in RF occasionally last season. I have no idea whether a season in CF would be good or bad for him.

  24. @seat101: The reshaping of his body in the last off season would bode well for him as a CF but I think if they want to have a look at him there, he still has some work to do in that department. Choo’s not exactly a splinter himself. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    I saw up the thread that someone was suggesting that perhaps neither Bruce nor Choo would end up in CF. However I don’t see them trading Bruce or Choo or Ludwick; so, one of those three is going to be the primary CF which is really saying either Bruce or Choo will be the CF.

  25. @OhioJim:

    Agreed. My first thought when hearing the rumor was “JB to CF!”, now I amon the fence. All the more so ’cause everyone else thinks it will be Choo.

    Btw, I love this trade!

    And I am even ever more grateful for this great website!

  26. Another question is whether BP or Cozart bats #2.

    WJ’s statement referred to BP as one of the “run producers” in the line up. That hints at slotting him 6th or perhaps alternating him between 5th and 6th depending on whether they are facing a righty starter or a lefty starter.

  27. After hearing about this trade I got so excited that I had to watch some Reds highlights from last season. Of course, this is the first clip I watched. Enjoy.

    Can it be April yet?

  28. So, during the winter meetings there were rumors about the Reds and DBacks trying to work out a trade. What could it have been for? Kubel? Parra? Adam Eaton? Did anyone expect the DBacks were specifically targeting Didi Gregorius? I sure didn’t. Yikes! The Reds MIGHT have been able to trade Gregorius for Parra, but they’d be in much worse position than they are now with Choo. Good job to Walt Jocketty for not making any hasty decisions.

    It seems like Kevin Towers, the DBacks’ GM, has a crazy obsession with Didi Gregorius. I’ve been reading DBacks fan message boards and most of them are angry, considering trading Trevor Bauer as a continuation of the unpopular Jarrod Parker trade last year (isn’t it nice that Reds fans follow a team that values young pitching?). This is what the Reds could have done to punish Homer Bailey a few years ago – trade him as punishment for struggling at the major league level.

    • So, during the winter meetings there were rumors about the Reds and DBacks trying to work out a trade.What could it have been for?Kubel?Parra?Adam Eaton?Did anyone expect the DBacks were specifically targeting Didi Gregorius?I sure didn’t.Yikes!The Reds MIGHT have been able to trade Gregorius for Parra, but they’d be in much worse position than they are now with Choo.Good job to Walt Jocketty for not making any hasty decisions.

      It seems like Kevin Towers, the DBacks’ GM, has a crazy obsession with Didi Gregorius.I’ve been reading DBacks fan message boards and most of them are angry, considering trading Trevor Bauer as a continuation of the unpopular Jarrod Parker trade last year (isn’t it nice that Reds fans follow a team that values young pitching?).This is what the Reds could have done to punish Homer Bailey a few years ago – trade him as punishment for struggling at the major league level.

      I don’t think Bauer was punished for having a bad 4 game major league debut. Kevin Towers is clearly obsessed with Gregorious. In his comments he compared Gregorious to a young Derek Jeter.
      Also, Bauer is a bit eccentric, and apparently he rubbed the DBacks organization the wrong way.

  29. The real question: Between BRUUUUUCE, WOOOOO, and now CHOOOOO, how long until the entire city is hoarse?

  30. I don’t know that fans will be making more or less noise, I think they’ll just replace booooooo with ‘Chooooooo’ when the centerfielder hits.

  31. With Votto coming back on two healthy legs, he has to now be the odds on, preseason favorite for the NL MVP in 2013. He will routinely have baserunners on base in front of him with less than two outs and a run-producing RH bat hitting behind him.

    20 HR
    60 2B
    90 BB
    120 RBI
    1.050 OPS

    In fact, I can see the 2013 Reds lineup with 5 legitimate all star candidates, just from the position players, going into the season.

    Now, about extending Latos & Bailey…

  32. If the Reds are so ready and willing to roll with Choo or Bruce in center, I doubt Billy Hamilton’s call-up will be a result of his super-duper outstanding defense. He’s going to be expected to do one thing- get on base. Any way he feasibly can.

    As for Mesoraco, what he needs most right now is confidence. You tell him “you get 2 of every five games son. Go out there and MAKE me play you more.” Besides, he’s not going to learn how to handle the Reds rotation, nor will he learn how to handle major league pitching in Louisville. Being able to learn the nuances from one of the best defensive catchers in all of MLB is an invaluable resource for Mseo and the Reds. If you plan on sending him down, might as well trade him for something you’ll use. Meso needs to be with the big league club. Nothing will be better for him.

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