Boston Red Sox: Is Shin-Soo Choo a Great Fit for Boston in 2013?

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Boston Red Sox: Is Shin-Soo Choo a Great Fit for Boston in 2013?
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After a devastating, historic meltdown in September of 2011, the Bobby Valentine-led 2012 version of the Boston Red Sox faltered the entire season to a 69-93 finish, last place in the American League East.

By trading of the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 25, second-year GM Ben Cherington received a do-over for nearly the entire Red Sox roster.

With a few big names reaching free agency, specifically Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, the Red Sox could be major players. Boston could also be a player in the trade market.

One name that came up around the trade deadline last July was Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.

Choo had an excellent season in 2012, hitting .283/.373/.441 with 598 at-bats, establishing himself as an excellent leadoff hitter for a club that was—for most of the season—desperate to score runs.

As the Red Sox look to rebuild, and do so quickly for their huge fanbase, is Shin-Soo Choo a good fit within the team?

Choo has a career .847 OPS, compiling an average batting line of .289/.381/.465 along with a 162-game average of 19 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 38 doubles and 86 RBI.

He will turn 31 in July and is arbitration eligible for the last time in 2013. Represented by Scott Boras, Choo made $4.9 million in 2012 and he is due for a raise after his solid 2012 campaign.

Jason Miller/Getty Images

While money isn't much of an object for Boston, Choo would cost them a couple of solid prospects.

Choo would provide some immediate offensive help, but what else could he offer the Red Sox?

Choo is a monster against right-handed pitchers, posting a career OPS of .914 in 1,759 at-bats, yet he is not a monster against left-handed pitchers, posting a career .695 OPS in 794 at-bats.

Shin-Soo Choo is an asset as the strong side of a platoon, but he may not be an asset as he ages. If the Red Sox use him wisely and offer a one-year commitment, he would be a nice fit in their outfield.

Red Sox leadoff hitters posted a .259/.302/.369 line over 693 at-bats last season, while Choo had a .310/.389/.493 line in 400 at-bats out of the leadoff spot in 2012.

Putting Choo in the leadoff position would allow Jacoby Ellsbury to move to the middle of the order, verifying whether or not Ellsbury is the powerful producer that he showed himself to be in 2011—when he hit 32 home runs, drove in 105 runs and led the majors in total bases.

Which brings us to the existing roster. Ellsbury is the center fielder and the Red Sox are said to be interested in bringing back current free agent Cody Ross, who played 96 games in right and 22 in left in 2012.

The rest of the roster includes: Jerry Sands (acquired from Los Angeles), Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney (who could be non-tendered but is arbitration-eligible after making $1.75 million in 2012) and Ryan Kalish (who is under team control through 2017).

Is Shin-Soo Choo a Great Fit for the Boston Red Sox?

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If the Red Sox don't go after Josh Hamilton, trading for Choo could be a solid deal.

While Choo struggles against left-handed pitching, the team has the switch-hitting Nava and the lefty-smashing Ross in order to move Choo to the bench for those games.

Choo in the leadoff spot would allow Ellsbury to move to the middle of the order, where Ellsbury and David Ortiz (who looks like he will be coming back on a two-year deal) could be split up by the right-handed bat of third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Choo would only make sense in Boston if the Red Sox don't make a splash in free agency, though adding another left-handed bat (like Josh Hamilton) to the order doesn't make a whole lot of sense either—especially in the middle of the order, where David Ortiz and Ellsbury could already be resting.

A leadoff hitter like Choo is certainly valuable, but because of the current makeup of the roster, is he really a great fit?

The Red Sox are a mess and Ben Cherington will get a fresh start after dumping the large salaries of Gonzalez, Crawford and Beckett on the Dodgers.

Choo is one option and he would help improve the Red Sox roster, but there is no telling which direction the club will actually go.

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