As the winter meetings come to a close, a lot of big bats have already been signed to huge contracts this offseason. Names like Robinson Cano, Brian McCann, and Curtis Granderson have already come to find new places to step up to the plate next season, but some names are still out there that Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein might take a look at.
One of the biggest hitters still out there is outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, a left-handed hitter who spent last season with the Cubs’ division rivals, the Cincinnati Reds. Choo posted 21 HRs as a Red last season, as well as batting .285 with an impressive .423 OBP, a stat the Cubs are looking to improve upon. With Choo, the Cubs could look to fill a hole in the outfield, preferably center.
The Cubs have already been trying to load up on outfielders this season, re-signing right fielder Nate Schierholtz to a two-year deal, as well as trading OF Brian Bogusevic to the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF Justin Ruggiano. The Cubs also have some outfielders coming up from the minors, as outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler have been lighting it up in the farm system. With the addition of Choo though, the Cubs could be looking at an impressive player to use above the rookies.
The Reds have already stated they are not looking to re-sign Choo after he spent just one season with the team since getting traded there last season from the Cleveland Indians. Already, several teams have been in hot pursuit of the former All-Star, as the Texas Rangers have been talking with Choo’s agent, Scott Boras, since the beginning of the Winter Meetings.
Boras has been trying to negotiate a seven-year deal for Choo worth up to $153 million, a deal Boras negotiated earlier this year for Jacoby Ellsbury with the New York Yankees. If the Cubs were to make a pursuit for him, they won’t be giving up that kind of money on just one player, but could still give a reasonable offer that could still keep Choo around for a while.
Choo’s status as a leadoff hitter could be of great value though to the Cubs, as GM Jed Hoyer said at the winter meetings that o-base percentage is a key stat the Cubs need to improve in, something Choo has excelled in during his career. The Cubs averaged a measly .300 OBP last season, finishing 14th in the NL and 28th in the league. Choo on the other hand was one of the top contributors to the Reds in OBP (second to 1B Joey Votto). With those two leading the way, the Reds were 2nd in the NL and 6th in the league in OBP. Choo’s power and ability to get on base might just be the thing they need right now after trading power hitter Alfonso Soriano last season to the Yankees, a huge home-run hitter for the last few seasons.
The addition of Choo could drastically improve this team, giving them the consistency and power they need from a leadoff hitter and a spot to fill in the outfield after the departure of CF David Dejesus. If the Cubs decide to pursue Choo, they could make a serious run against the Rangers and maybe give the Cubs a talented player that could improve so many areas the team has been struggling for years.
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