Free Agent Forecast: Shin-Soo Choo
BACKGROUNDThe 31-year-old Korean outfielder is worth a lot of money, not for his power or speed -- though he has both -- but for his ability to take walks and get on base. Choo had a .423 OBP last season which was one of the best in baseball. He also plays a very good outfield and can hit practically anywhere in a lineup.
Although Choo played for Cincinnati in 2013, he spent the rest of his career in both Seattle and Cleveland, so hitting American League pitching shouldn't be too much of an adjustment. His main competition in free agency is Carlos Beltran, who is an older but more experienced player. Unlike Beltran's plethora of postseason experience, Choo has only played ONE game in the playoffs -- the Wild Card game in 2013 against the Pirates. He went 1 for 3.
I think there's a good chance the Yankees end up signing Choo, especially if Beltran's need for a three-year contract remains unwavering. The Yankees' front office has always valued on-base percentage, and Choo is one of the best in that department. He's also younger than Beltran and plays a better right field. While he'll be more expensive than Beltran, the Yankees know he's probably a better investment with less risk. Choo for four or five years is much safer than Beltran for three. If the Yankees lose Curtis Granderson, Choo would replace his speed/power combination while also upgrading in the batting average and on-base percentage departments.
It's impossible to accurately predict what the Yankees will end up doing in terms of Beltran and Choo, but I'm fairly confident that one will be in pinstripes next season. Yesterday, I predicted that Beltran would get around a three-year, $35 million deal. Choo, on the other hand, will be targeting a contract much like the one the Giants just gave to Hunter Pence, a five-year, $90 million deal. So sit back, relax and we'll see what happens!