Posted December 21, 2013

Rangers upgrade with seven-year, $130 million deal for Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers
After reportedly rejecting several overtures form other teams, Shin-Shoo Choo signed in Texas (Al Behrman/AP)

After reportedly rejecting overtures from other teams, Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Rangers. (Al Behrman/AP)

The top remaining free-agent hitter on the market as of Saturday morning is no longer on the market as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo has come to terms with the Texas Rangers on a seven-year, $130 million contract. Choo’s contract stands as the third-largest signed this offseason (after Robinson Cano’s $240 million, ten-year deal with the Mariners and Jacoby Ellsbury’s $153 million, seven-year deal with the Yankees) as well as the sixth-richest contract for an outfielder in major league history. Choo’s deal surpasses, among others, the $125 million, five-year deal the Angels used to lure Josh Hamilton away from the Rangers a year ago.

That last comparison is particularly apt because Choo is the Hamilton replacement the Rangers failed to secure last offseason. In 2012, with Hamilton hitting .285/.354/.577 with 43 home runs and 128 RBIs, the Rangers led the major leagues with 4.99 runs scored per game. Without Hamilton or a sufficient replacement last year, the Rangers fell to 4.48 runs scored per game, which ranked seventh in the American League. Due in large part to the struggles of their offense, the 2013 Rangers failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, suffering a late-season collapse that concluded with a loss in the one-game playoff for the second wild-card spot.

The Rangers attempted to upgrade their offense earlier this offseason when they traded second baseman Ian Kinsler for first baseman Prince Fielder. The prospect of Fielder hitting in the power-friendly Ballpark in Arlington is certainly exciting, even for non-Rangers fans, but for that to be more than a lateral move, the Rangers need sophomore Jurickson Profar to mature into a sufficient replacement for Kinsler at second base.

Signing, Choo, however, is pure upgrade. What’s more, despite his lower profile, Choo is a player very much capable of replacing Hamilton’s value on the field. To cut to the chase, over the last six seasons, Hamilton has been worth 23.6 wins above replacement according to Baseball-Reference’s WAR statistic, an average of 3.9 bWAR per season, while Choo has been worth 24.4 bWAR, or 4.1 per season.

Choo doesn’t put up the big power numbers that Hamilton does (his career highs are 22 home runs and 90 RBIs, both set with Cleveland in 2010), but he gets on base far more often, and steals more bases. Over the last six seasons combined, Choo has posted a .392 on-base percentage and stolen 100 bases, a rate of 21 per 162 games, at a 74 percent success rate. As a leadoff hitter, his role on the Reds this past season and likely role on the Rangers in 2014, he is an igniter, as evidenced by his career-high 107 runs scored this past season. Choo gets on base via the hit-by-pitch more often than you’d like, but in the tradition of Craig Biggio, Don Baylor, and Ron Hunt before him, he has proven that to be a repeatable skill, getting plunked 11 or more times in four of the last five seasons and leading the majors by being hit 26 times this past season.

Choo also brings 20-homer power (though he hit just 21 in Great American Ballpark this past season, so don’t expect a big jump in power with the move to Arlington) and one of the best outfield throwing arms in the game. That last should make him the Rangers’ right fielder with Alex Rios moving to left. Choo was playing over his head in center field for the Reds, but should return to being a solid overall fielder with the move back to right, which means he could be even more valuable in 2013 than he was in 2014.

With Choo in the fold, the Rangers now have a solid core locked up through at least 2017 with lefty Derek Holland signed through 2016 with an option for 2017, ace Yu Darvish signed through 2017, lefty Matt Harrison signed through 2017 with an option for 2018, Profar under team control until 2018, Martin Perez signed through 2017 with options for 2018-2020, Choo and Fielder signed through 2020, and shortstop Elvis Andrus signed through 2022 with an option for 2023. That’s half the lineup, including three top-of-the-order hitters and 80-percent of the rotation, with a true-ace in Darvish leading the way, locked up for the next four years.

Corcoran: Time for Jurickson Profar to show what he can do for Rangers

With the Rangers having added so much salary with Fielder (just $3.7 million more than Kinsler for 2014 but a total of $76 million more than Kinsler over the remainder of their contracts) and Choo, not to mention the extensions given earlier this year to Andrus and Harrison, who will make a combined $28 million in 2015, there’s a clear sense that the Rangers have to make something happen in that four-year window. Choo should be well worth his average annual salary of $18.6 million for the bulk of his contract, but he will turn 38 in July of its final year, two years older than Hamilton will be when his Angels contract expires. As a player with speed and on-base skills, Choo should age gracefully, more gracefully than the fragile and impatient Hamilton or the bad-bodied Fielder, but by 2020, the Rangers will be paying a 37-year-old Choo and a 36-year-old Fielder roughly $38.3 million combined. That might not be a total disaster, but it’s not part of the blueprint for building a winning ballclub.

The winning will have to come in the interim. Fortunately for the Rangers, with Choo in the fold, there’s a good chance that it will.

31 comments
carolinacajun
carolinacajun

Just when you thought teams were beginning to see that they have been way over spending, now you have a way overpaid Cano, Ellsbury and  now Choo.  Give me a break! Oh we ,can all pencil in the Rangers as being the World Series Champs next year.  Fans start buying your World Series tickets now! Don't wait you just might miss out.

scafeet
scafeet

This is a "bargain" at $18.5 mil a year for 7 years.... or more likely, the going rate at $26 mil for 5 years since the last two could be worthless. It only becomes a crap deal if the wheels fall off after four years, in which case, he got paid A-Rod-type money at $32.5 per year.

ShawnB
ShawnB

I enjoyed having Choo as a Red and would love to have him play for us {over the next 4 years at 8 million a year}.  I just can't understand this money...


Kalzy
Kalzy

As a Reds fan, I can say that for a time, he was the MVP of the team. As the year progressed, it became evident that he couldn't hit lefties...at all. He's a bit of a train wreck in the field. He'll be missed, but not at 130 bills. Silly.

JohnGelhard
JohnGelhard

The whole idea of advanced metrics was if you couldn't afford a guy that hit between 30 and 40 homers you could sign guys with high on base percentages, for instance, for a lower amount.  Now teams are paying a premium for guys with high OBP.  Thing is baseball, and sports in general, is entertainment and no one goes to a game to see a guy work a count.  

RickHamby
RickHamby

The rangers f00cked themselves....morons....

MrArlington
MrArlington

Fielder was a solid move but this is a long term "blah" move. He is a good lead off hitter but given the circumstances I would think there is generally a reason that you "win" these players. I do like the Rangers and I hope this works out for them.

beast
beast

The losers are the MLB fans who buy the tickets. You chumps are overpaying so these PED enhanced nothings can make some big money. 

effeweall
effeweall

did you just compare Shoo with Josh Hamilton?  Shoo has 900 career hits. 


"Choo is a player very much capable of replacing Hamilton’s value on the field. "


keep belching out this WAR stat.  Cano's biggest plus is his WAR stat.  He went 0-32 in the playoffs and does not run.  WAR needs to factor in running and hitting in  the playoffs.

Richard40
Richard40

The Rangers are overpaying, but so is just about every MLB team.   Texas will have a more clear identity this year, and will win the West.   

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Kinsler and Pierzinski out , Shin-Soo choo and Prince Floppy in , brace yourselves for a losing season Rangers fans

WestcoastMD
WestcoastMD

Fantastic. Another lame article by Corcoran using ridiculous twisting of statistics to justify an absurd contract by a player who absolutely does not deserve half of the total value given to him. Corcoran- I hope when this player starts to stink, as all these over-30 players do, that you will write an article explaining how dumb your projection was. You are one of the worst sports writers around for your constant fawning of baseball players and how they deserve monster contracts. You and Kurkjian have killed baseball.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

I dunno, hope it works out but seems like they're overpaying to me.

JimCatCabbage
JimCatCabbage

@RickHambyThat's why You get all the calls from GM's around the league...wanting your incredible insight like 'f00cked themselves'


Awesome, keep us posted!

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@beastWhy are fans of the sport losers?  They are buying those tickets of their own free will.

howboutthis?
howboutthis?

@Richard40 Is it overpaying if that's the market price? Also I'd say a contender adding a useful piece is far less likely to regret the deal as the player's skills deteriorate, than a team looking to make a splash because the GM's job is in jeopardy. *coughCanocough*

Chessmaster
Chessmaster

@AlainLapointeCome back and post about this at the end of next season, when we'll know for sure... I'm betting the Rangers will look good, while you won't. I checked, but didn't find your name anywhere in the front offices of any pro baseball teams???

WestcoastMD
WestcoastMD

@stabmasterarson21 Totally overpaid. But of course, Corcoran here spent an entire article justifying the move. He's horrible.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Hope you'll seat near the 1st base line to help Prince Floppy catch foul balls .

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Ladies , please take a number , here's Chessmaster , the last unclaimed treasury still available !!!!

Chessmaster
Chessmaster

@WestcoastMD@JoeCabotI dunno bout that, Westcoast... I got a chuckle out of Cabot's sarcasm, and he has a point. The only thing I got from your 2 slash-n-burn posts here was a need to rush to the crapper. Troll much?