Shin-Soo Choo is expected to be the Rangers' new leadoff man for the next few years.
According to a source who has confirmed the deal to Greg Johns of MLB.com, free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will be the newest Texas Ranger.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports also confirmed the deal through a source, in this tweet:
Shin-Soo Choo's 7-year deal with Rangers is worth $130 million, source confirms to @FOXSports1.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 21, 2013
MLB.com's report also indicates that Choo agreed to a seven-year deal worth $130 million.
Earlier this week, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that Choo had turned down a seven-year, $140 million deal from the New York Yankees. The tweet seemed to leave many Ranger faithful doubtful that the team could sign Choo.
Sources: Shin-Soo Choo turned down a seven-year, $140M contract from the Yankees, even after Jacoby Ellsbury signed. http://t.co/LDVEw326wT— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 18, 2013
But despite any sour feelings, the Rangers were indeed able to grab one of baseball's premier leadoff hitters. It was widely thought that general manager Jon Daniels would continue his waiting game a bit longer in an attempt to lower Choo's price. I certainly didn't expect JD to make this move for at least another couple of weeks.
This was a situation of true compromise for JD and agent Scott Boras. It appears that both parties were able to get at least one advantage in the contract, while conceding another to make the deal work.
In the end, JD was able to bring Choo's price down by between $10 to $15 million, based on the figures reported by Passan, while Boras was still able to squeeze out a seven-year contract for his client.
Last week, Morosi reported each team's apparent limits quite clearly:
The Rangers appear comfortable going to five years on Shin-Soo Choo. Scott Boras wants seven. We will see if they settle in the middle.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 12, 2013
I know what many of you are thinking: $130 million is a steep price for a 31-year-old.
Remember, though, if the Rangers were going to sign Choo, it was going to take huge money. There was simply no way around that. In the end, this is a better deal for Texas than many of you might think.
Of course, JD having to go to the seventh year is not ideal. Five or six years would have been the best-case scenario. But like I said, both parties had to bend a bit, and Boras' concession appears to be less money per year.
Keep in mind that Boras is as tough as nails with contract negotiations. JD held his own admirably here.
Additionally, the Rangers will lose a first-round pick to Choo's former team, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds extended Choo a qualifying offer earlier in the offseason, and a compensatory pick is attached to his signing with any other team.
Texas will get that pick back when Nelson Cruz signs elsewhere.
But make no mistake: Choo was an absolute need for the Rangers. His signing not only gives Texas likely the best leadoff hitter in the American League, but it also puts the team in direct position to compete for the World Series for the next few seasons.
In my piece two days ago, I laid out the intricate details of how Choo will immensely add to this Rangers lineup. Take a look at that to get a complete breakdown of why Choo could very likely be the one missing piece for Texas.
Choo figures to slide into left field for the Rangers. That is obviously the primary benefit. But don't underestimate the value of the secondary benefits in play here: Michael Choice is no longer in a potentially high-pressure situation. It was believed that he was the team's top candidate to play left field, if Choo or Cruz wasn't signed.
Now that an established and proven outfielder is roaming left, Choice has the advantage of possibly starting the year in Triple-A Round Rock and continuing his development.
Also, Choo's signing solidifies Mitch Moreland's role with the team. Especially after handing out a contract of that size, having a power source like Moreland for dirt cheap is a beautiful thing for the payroll.
I do believe that manager Ron Washington will call on him to give first baseman Prince Fielder a rest for a few games if needed. But I'm not expecting that to be often.
This signing should move center fielder Leonys Martin down in the batting order. As I've said in the past, he has a lightning uppercut swing, which gives him impressive bat speed but also opens up holes in it. He has a power stroke that could really be maximized hitting lower in the order.
As it does for Choice, Choo taking over the leadoff spot puts Martin in a much more comfortable situation to continue developing as a hitter.
Finally, JD has eliminated the positional logjam, or potential for one, from every position. Every player now has a clear role and position.
I see this deal as one that addressed several team needs, just like the Fielder trade did. Here's one way to look at it: For seven years and $130 million, JD solved every one of the Rangers' remaining positional issues, whether it be personnel-related or just clearing out the lineup in general.
If you are still a bit shell-shocked for the worse, here's what the Ranger lineup could look like in 2014:
- LF Shin-Soo Choo, and his .423 OBP from last year
- SS Elvis Andrus
- 1B Prince Fielder
- 3B Adrian Beltre
- RF Alex Rios
- DH Mitch Moreland
- C Geovany Soto
- CF Leonys Martin
- 2B Jurickson Profar
- C JP Arencibia
- UTL Adam Rosales
- OF Engel Beltre
At first glance, the 7-9 portion of the order may appear a bit weak. The important thing to remember here is that the Rangers are counting on the development of both Profar and Martin. I fully expect both to make significant jumps at the plate this season.
In general, this lineup has the look of one of the most complete in baseball. Speed at the bottom and top, and a nice power element with Choo. Speed is also in the middle with Alex Rios. There is an impressive barrage of power in the heart of the order with Fielder, Beltre and Moreland. Rios also has some pop in his bat.
If Profar and Martin play even close to their expectations for 2014, this team can seriously contend for a World Series. That isn't quite as a big of an "if" as you might think. Martin showed inspiring flashes in 2013, as did Profar.
Hitting at the bottom of the order allows those two guys to succeed in a position they are comfortable in. That's the key with this team now: Choo may have a plethora of roles, and he does, but every player is now cemented into his spot offensively. Each guy brings something to the table.
The mantra of this club should now really be: just get on base.
The "Choo Choo Train," as he has been called, does that better than almost anyone on the planet. Everyone else simply needs to follow suit.