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2013 Stats with Cincinnati Reds
Position Rank: No. 1 outfielder
Qualifying Offer: Yes
Why Teams Want Him
Most clubs today recognize the importance of getting on base, and since 2010, no outfielder has done it better than Shin-Soo Choo (min. 1,500 PA).
Once he reaches first, Choo is a legitimate base-stealing threat. The 31-year-old can also single-handedly put runs on the scoreboard, as he has three career seasons of 20-plus homers.
He's a target for teams who seek an upgrade at either outfield corner.
Possible Suitors: Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers
Choo won't top Jacoby Ellsbury's free-agent earnings, but super-agent Scott Boras is trying to secure him a contract that's nearly as lucrative. Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it's going to require "Carl Crawford money" (seven years, $142 million), while one general manager learned that Choo would cost $140 million, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
But with Choo's list of suitors thinning, it looks like Boras might actually have to—gasp—reach a compromise:
The Rangers' interest isn't at all surprisingly.
General manager Jon Daniels has explained that even the acquisition of Prince Fielder didn't solve all of his club's offensive troubles (h/t T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com). If the 2014 season got underway today, Leonys Martin would be the Rangers leadoff hitter, says manager Ron Washington (h/t Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas). His .306 career on-base percentage is less than ideal for that role.
CBS Sports insider Jon Heyman and Fox Sports' Jon Morosi agree that Choo isn't in play for Seattle anymore following the additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison.
According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Cincinnati has gone weeks without speaking to Boras. GM Walt Jocketty admits that it's going to be "very difficult" for the Reds to make a competitive offer. Heyman tweets that club executives discussed Choo at the Winter Meetings and agreed that re-signing him wouldn't fit their financial model unless Brandon Phillips' contract disappears from their books. The question is whether Choo stays on the market long enough for the Reds to find a trade partner for Phillips, preferably one that's willing to absorb most or all of the $50 million still owed to him.
Per Heyman, Arizona was legitimately "in the Choo hunt," while also acting aggressively in trade talks with the Los Angeles Angels regarding Mark Trumbo. They chose Trumbo in a three-team deal.
The Tigers had set their sights on Choo, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, but the addition of Rajai Davis makes a match between them more improbable.
Michael Morse is headed to San Francisco, where he's expected to start regularly in the outfield alongside Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence.
The O's accumulated some spending money by trading Jim Johnson and letting both Nate McLouth and Scott Feldman depart via free agency. Heyman hears that they "haven't ruled out" committing it to Choo.