Shin-Soo Choo has reportedly signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers*:
Free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has reached agreement on a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers, two baseball sources confirmed to ESPN.com.
Choo was the premier offensive player left on the market after Robinson Cano signed with Seattle and Jacoby Ellsbury went to the New York Yankees.
Choo was one of the top leadoff hitters in the majors for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 with a .423 on-base percentage, a .285 batting average, 21 homers, 54 RBIs, 20 steals and 107 runs scored.
I know we all expected this day to come, but it’s sad nonetheless. Choo had a great season in a Cincinnati uniform; he was probably the best Reds leadoff hitter since
Willy Taveras Barry Larkin. I continued to hold out hope that the Reds would re-sign Choo (and put him in left field) as the pieces of the free agency puzzle started to fall into place (and Choo’s options became more limited).
In the end, however, I can’t fault Walt Jocketty and the Reds. Seven years is probably way too many. I’m a fully-paid member of the Shin-Soo Choo Fan Club, but he’s not likely to be a very good value on the back end of that deal. For the present, however, he makes that Rangers lineup look awfully good.
For the Reds, the question is: what now? One presumes that Billy Hamilton is in line to be the Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter, and while I like Hamilton, I’m not optimistic that he will help the Reds much on the offensive side of the ledger. If you exclude Joey Votto, the Reds do not have a single starter who posted an OBP above .330 in the major leagues last year. Excluding Votto and Jay Bruce, no other starter had an OBP above .315.
At this point, the Reds’ offense appears to be significantly worse than it was in 2013. The pitching should be good again next year, but Walt Jocketty has a lot of work to do if he wants to improve the hitting. Fortunately, there is plenty of time for Walt to work some magic. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
*One silver lining is that Scott Boras probably cost Choo $10 million. Reports last week had the Yankees offering Choo 7 years/$140 million, whereupon Boras evidently rejected the offer. Boras countered with 7/$143mm, because he wanted Choo’s contract to be a little higher than Carl Crawford’s deal. The Yankees told him to take a hike. If any of the reports about this episode were true, Boras owes Choo $10 million.