OF Shin-Soo Choo
Born: July 13, 1982 in Busan, South Korea
Major League Debut: April 21, 2005 (Age 22)
Teams Played For: Seattle Mariners (2005-2006), Cleveland Indians (2006-2012), Cincinnati Reds (2013)
By the Numbers:
2013 numbers: .285/.423/.462/.885, 143 OPS+, 21 HR, 20 SB, 112 BB, 4.2 WAR
Career numbers: .288/.389/.465/.854, 134 OPS+, 104 HR, 105 SB, 449 BB, 25.6 WAR
Previous contract: 1 year, $7.4 million
Projected contract: 5 years, $80.9 million, $16.2 million AAV, made $7.4 million in 2013
Pros- Choo is an on-base machine. Since becoming a full-time player in 2008 he’s registered a .392 OBP. He was second in the NL to only his teammate Joey Votto with a .423 OBP. He does have plenty of pop for a guy who is best fit for the top of the order, hitting 20+ in three of his last five seasons and accumulating 260+ total bases in four of the last five seasons.
He’d be absolutely perfect batting first or second in the order for the Yankees, who are in need of a major offensive upgrade in the OF and at the top of the order and his power numbers could be sustained at Yankee Stadium even in his mid 30s.
Cons- He is an awful, awful outfielder. In his last year with the Indians he registered a -15.8 UZR/150 in rightfield. For some reason, the Reds decided to put him in center when they got him, and he was just as bad, accumulating a -17.0 UZR/150 there this year. He may not be as bad if he plays in front of the short porch at Yankee Stadium in the same outfield as Brett Gardner, but it’s a concern.
Choo also has very poor numbers against LHP, a career line of .243/.340/.341/.680. His numbers vs. southpaws only gets worse every year, bottoming out at .215/.347/.265/.612. Holy cow that is brutal. At least he’s countering that by having stellar numbers against RHP, hitting them at a .317/.457/.554/1.011 clip this year. Do the Yankees want to pay more than $16 million to a potential platoon player with numbers sure to decline into his mid-30s? Not to mention you-know-who is his agent (Scott Boras). I rest my case.
Verdict- Even with his declining numbers vs lefties and poor range, Choo is probably the best high priced option in the outfield this offseason. One thing that will not decline is his patience. Having that at the top of the Yankees’ order would be a boost for a team that finished 12th in the AL in OBP. He wouldn’t be over-reliant on the home run ball, even in Yankee Stadium. I’d definitely take him over Carlos Beltran or Jacoby Ellsbury. Sign him!