Off-season acquisitions have been the talk of Major League baseball since the Red Sox won the World Series, with the Yankees's acquisition of Red Sox infielder Jacoby Ellsbury potentially being the most impressive and productive move so far. However, Shin-Soo Choo, outfielder and lead-off man for the Cincinnati Reds, apparently has a statement to make as the number one free-agent available in the MLB this off-season.
Yesterday, Jeff Passan, of Yahoo! Sports, reported that Choo and his agent, Scott Boras, had turned down a 7 year, $140 million offer from the Yankees. After Boras respectfully declined the offer from the Yankees, he reportedly asked for more money - money of the $153 million, Jacoby Ellsbury variety. Showing restraint for perhaps the first time ever, the Yankees backed out of negotiations for Choo.
So where does this leave Choo? The outfielder had a decent year last year with Cincinnati, hitting .285 with 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 112 walks, and a .423 on-base percentage (In ranks, Choo was first in on-base percentage in the NL, led all lead-off hitters in home runs, and finished 2nd behind Matt Carpenter in slugging percentage for lead-off hitters at .481.)
While these numbers are impressive for a lead-off hitter, they are not 7 years, $140 million impressive - especially considering Choo is 31 years old. One American League executive commented on Choo's age, stating, "For the next two or three years, he's probably going to be an elite on-base guy. He's a plus makeup guy. He'll give you some power and probably play average defense on the corners. He's a very good hitter, but he's 31 next year. If you sign him to a seven-year deal, you know you'll be looking at a significantly declining skill set over the last 3-4 years of the deal."
Keeping all of those factors in mind, which MLB teams would still be interested in Choo knowing the price? Most analysts seem to believe that the Houston Astros are in the lead to acquire the outfielder. However, issues concerning whether or not the Astros will be willing to give up the number one pick in next year's draft present a potential roadblock to acquiring Choo. Other teams who have expressed interest in Choo include the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioels, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Many may believe that with the Yankees out of the picture, Choo and Boras passed up their sole chance of receiving an outlandish offer. However, when one looks at the outfield free-agents available both this year and next (Colby Rasmus, Brett Gardner, Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Coco Crisp, Josh Willingham, Nick Markakis, and Norichika Aoki), one has to believe that at least one team will get desperate enough to sign Choo regardless of how much money it costs.
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