The hot stove is already lit for the New York Yankees and the 2013 season hasn't even ended yet.
Among some of the targets the Yankees are reportedly looking at, former Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is one of the newer names added to the list, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Some other names listed in Heyman's report that have been seen as possible targets for the Bombers are catcher Brian McCann, Japanese stud pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Which player should be a top priority for the Yanks this offseason?
While the Yanks do like Choo a lot, according to Heyman's report, even general manager Brian Cashman noted that outfield isn't the team's biggest need and could take a backseat to the many holes the Bombers have.
Those holes include the need for a starting pitcher with Andy Pettitte retiring and the uncertain status of Hiroki Kuroda, who is a free agent, and CC Sabathia, who was ineffective last season. On top of that, the Bombers lost the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera and will have to fill the void with either David Robertson and a new setup man or a new closer altogether.
You can even argue the Bombers should be targeting an infielder as a more important hole thanks to the recent injury woes of shortstop Derek Jeter and the possible season-long suspension of third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Because of these issues, there is a chance Choo ends up going unsigned by New York. However, let's take a look at what he could potentially bring to the Bombers next season.
What Choo Brings
Choo would be a particularly great addition to the top of the Bombers' batting order.
Outfielder Brett Gardner spent most of the time as the Yanks' leadoff man last season and finished with a .273 average and a .344 on-base percentage.
The 31-year-old Choo hit .285 and had an on-base percentage of .423, which was good enough for No. 2 in the National League. His 20 stolen bases further proved he is a viable leadoff hitter, and his power numbers of 21 homers and 54 RBI makes him more than just a singles hitter.
Gardner has always been a very up-and-down player with the bat and is known for disappearing for extended periods of time with bad slumps. Choo would be an instant upgrade over Gardner in just about every category offensively, and his ability to get on base (112 walks in 2013) means he can still be an impact player when he goes into a slide.
Choo would be a perfect table setter for this lineup and would allow a pure No. 2 hitter like Jeter to move back to his natural spot for the majority of the season should he stay healthy. Jeter is the ideal kind of contact hitter that can move Choo over and help set up big innings for the Bombers thanks to multiple runners on base.
And with Gardner batting in the No. 9 hole, the Yanks lineup will turnover nicely having two good hitters to follow him.
On defense, Choo will roam the outfield for New York, although it isn't certain where he would play. Both he and Gardner can and have played center field in the past, but Gardner is known as the better outfielder, so he would likely get the nod while Heyman suggests Choo would play right field.
In all, Choo committed four errors in the outfield last season and totaled nine assists.
Choo clearly brings a lot to the table that can help the Yankees next season. The biggest question is if the Yanks will have enough left over after addressing their pitching and infield situation.
After all, guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells and Gardner himself already make for a crowded bunch in the outfield in 2014. Adding Choo to the mix would no doubt give the Bombers a wealth of solid outfielders and would be a welcome replacement for Curtis Granderson, who could depart in free agency.
It all depends on how much the Yanks are willing to spend and if they are serious about getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. By the time they get to Choo, that may be impossible to do.