The Texas Rangers are definitely interested in outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. With one, maybe two outfield positions up for grabs the Rangers are hoping to steal Choo without picking up a big contract.
Texas has been in communication with Choo’s agent Scott Boras and it seems evident that there is interest on Choo’s part to play in Arlington. All that needs to be finalized now is the price. The Rangers are certainly hoping to keep Choo’s contract under the $153 million that Boras negotiated for his other client, Jacoby Ellsbury. While the Yankees are notorious for throwing big contracts at undeserving players, the Rangers do not have such a negative stigma attached to them and might be able to sign Choo for less.
Choo is an extremely versatile player, able to play all three outfield positions and bat anywhere in the lineup. Last year he boasted a .423 on base percentage, a statistic that leads directly to runs scored.
If signed, I would expect to see Choo starting in left field and leading off in the lineup. Putting Choo in left field would knock up-and-coming superstar Michael Choice out of the starting job, a step I think would be beneficial for Texas’s success. Letting the young Choice mature while under the guidance of Choo could guarantee security in the outfield for years to come.
Putting Choo in center field is also an option, however Leonys Martín would lose his starting position. While this move might seem like a no-brainer to some, I would have to disagree. I think that Martín is going to be one of the most important players on the team this year, and so does manager Ron Washington.
“We certainly hope that with what Martín achieved last season, he can continue to build on it…This was quite an experience for him to learn how to play the game of baseball under control and contribute. He certainly did that as the year progressed. We’re looking for big things out of Martín.”
By trading Craig Gentry to the Oakland A’s the Rangers made it obvious that they are expecting Martín to take over completely in center field. Also, with Kinsler gone another spot in the top of the order opens up for Martín to win during Spring Training. Bringing in Choo could distort that whole plan.
As much as Choo could contribute to the Texas Rangers with his outrageous on-base percentage, speed on the base paths, and glove in the outfield I do not think that signing him is the best move the Rangers could make. Choo is a player who has the potential to get signed for a big contract and the Rangers are a team trying to do just the opposite. The two interests just don’t match up. Who Texas should really be signing is Nelson Cruz. Cruz has produced well for the Rangers over the last five years and his power numbers are only increasing. Putting Cruz in left field keeps Martín in center and, in combination with Alex Ríos in right, gives Texas one of the best outfields in the league.
At the end of the day, while having Shin-Soo Choo in Rangers colors could do nothing but increase the number of W’s the team enjoys, I just don’t think he is worth the extra millions when Nelson Cruz could potentially be signed for less.
When asked about his progress towards filling his remaining outfield spots General Manager Jon Daniels commented, “We’re not done yet, but we don’t feel any desperation to make a move. We’re a good team. We’d like to get better if the opportunity is there. If not, we’re going to go with the guys we’ve got.”