They certainly do things bigger in Texas. Mere weeks after taking on the considerable carriage that is Prince Fielder and the eight years remaining on his contract, it appears the Rangers just went out and spent a whole ‘nother truckload of money, signing Shin-Soo Choo to a seven year deal per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
There is a lot to like about a seven-year deal for Shin-Soo Choo. He’s an excellent baseball player and has been for some time. He is fresh off the best season of his career, leading the National League in on base percentage while putting up the highest overall offensive numbers of his career.
There are some potential red flags in Choo’s numbers, of course. The inordinately high number of times he reached base by hit by pitch for one, his vulnerability against left-handed pitching is another. But as far as safe bets as far as players who should age with dignity, Choo ranks pretty high.
The Rangers get exactly what they need – a REAL leadoff hitter. Choo replaces the departed-to-Detroit Ian Kinlser, though Choo’s approach is much more consistent with traditional (in the modern sense) leadoff guy. He sees a ton of pitches and gets on base like crazy. Should the Rangers continue to deploy Elvis Andrus from the two spot, well it’s their funeral.
The upgrade from Choo to Cruz is not insignificant, as Choo is both a better offensive player and a much, much better fielder. The Korean outfielder won’t be asked to play much center field for Texas so his strong arm and dependable glove can rest easy in left field, as the rangy Alex Rios patrols right field for the Rangers again in 2014.
Reports suggest the deal is worth $130 million over the seven yeas, with limited no-trade protection but no bonuses or options (via Jeff Passan.) Interesting term considering reports earlier this month suggest Choo turned down seven years and $140 from the Yankees. The lack of state tax in Texas makes up the difference in total dollars, Twitter accountants are quick to point out.
The $130 million dollar question remains: is Shin-Soo Choo actually going to earn this very large paycheck? He is a superstar player? Probably not. He’s very good but now being paid as one of the top outfielders in the game. For all his skills, he is hardly a power hitter so what happens when his bat starts to slow with age? As suggested in this space previously, the track records of players with Choo’s skill set as they zoom past the age of 32 is a little scary, but there is hope in the shape of Bobby Abreu.
No matter how Choo ages, the 2014 Rangers team is going to be very, very good. There is still room to upgrade their rotation but an offense of Choo-Beltre-Fielder-Rios-Moreland-Soto-Andrus-Profar-Martin is pretty good indeed. There are upgrades and then there are UPGRADES. The Rangers won 91 games last year and now claim two very good players who will only benefit from the advantages their new home ballpark provides. Yikes. Good luck, Seattle. I’m sure Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez are more than enough to overcome this talented group all on their own.