The resurgence of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in 2013 has made him one of the top free agents this offseason, but his options have begun to dwindle as other big-name players sign their deals.
After a one-year rental with the Cincinnati Reds, it is unlikely they will be able to afford him in 2014, and few teams still have the money and need for an outfielder as good as Choo.
Last year, Choo played in 154 games with a .285 batting average, belted 21 home runs and stole 20 bases. That is All-Star caliber production.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Choo rejected a seven-year, $140 million contract offer from the New York Yankees. That tells you how much he and his agent think he's worth on the open market.
Passan went on to write that the Houston Astros may be the team to jump in the Choo sweepstakes in order to help the perennial cellar-dwellers become a respectable team again:
Still, an Astros outfield of Choo, Dexter Fowler and rising prospect George Springer – a Mike Cameron-floor, All-Star-ceiling center fielder – is the start of a team that with Jason Castro, Jose Altuve, Scott Feldman and a bevy of coming talent (Rodon, fellow No. 1 overall picks Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, hard throwers Jarred Cosart and Mike Foltynewicz) could be ready by 2015 to escape from the doldrums of a lost decade.
Passan reported another team from Texas was rumored to be vying for Choo's services—the Texas Rangers. According to Passan, the Rangers showed interest in Choo, but they shifted their focus from Choo to free agent Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Based on his report, the Rangers may consider signing Choo after Tanaka decides where he will go. As far as the best fit for Choo goes, the Rangers are in dire need of a quality outfielder.
As of now, Leonys Martin is the projected starting center fielder. Choo would preferably play there, and he would be a nice upgrade over Martin, who has a career batting average of .254 compared to Choo's .280 mark.
It's also unlikely that free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz will re-sign with the Rangers, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Cruz's 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs during the 2013 season most likely left a bad taste in the team's mouth.
What team is the best fit for Shin-Soo Choo?
Choo has been a model citizen and quality leader by all indications, so the team would probably prefer him over Cruz from that standpoint, but if they can re-sign Cruz on a cheaper deal, that could lead them to passing on Choo.