Potential Landing Spots for Shin-Soo Choo

Choo has yet to land a team.

What do Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, and Curtis Granderson all have in common? 

They're no longer free agents. While notable names on the starting pitching market remain, day by day the bats have dropped off the board.

There are a couple of big-name hitters out there, but one in particular figures to have the most interesting market. In fact, CBS Sports had this player ranked 4th among free agent position players. 

His name is Shin-Soo Choo, he's represented by Scott Boras, and it's only a matter of time until one team takes the leap and makes a splash.

With the market thinning, though, Boras and his client aren't going to take an offer just to take one. He never sells his client short, so it's not out of the question that even a seven-year deal will happen.

Perhaps one deterrent to Choo this off-season is the fact that he turns 32 in July. The second deterrent is even more obvious: Scott Boras. He's the agent when it comes to stars in Major League Baseball. Some of his clients include: Jacoby Ellsbury, Prince Fielder, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg... just to name a handful.

So, why hasn't Choo signed yet? Is it because the asking price is too high? After all, Boras said he wanted more for Choo than he got for Jayson Werth in 2010, which was $126 million over seven years. As for the asking price being too high, that's almost complete nonsense.

This free agency has been insane from the very beginning, which can be attributed to the contract the Los Angeles Angels gave Albert Pujols and the contract the Detroit Tigers gave to Prince Fielder. With each passing year, the MLB off-season becomes a little more ridiculous.

Shin-Soo Choo: By the Numbers

Choo is an impressive player and I am surprised that nobody appears at least close to signing him as of yet. He might have been the most underrated free agent coming into this off-season.

He has a career on-base percentage of .389, and it was .423 this past season. Yes, you read that number correctly. He's good for 15-25 stolen bases per year, and he hits for a solid average (career .288 mark). He struck out 133 times this past season, but he also drew 112 walks. That's a phenomenal number for a lead-off hitter and any team would be overjoyed to get that much out of the player at the top of their lineup.

His 4.2 WAR in one season with the Cincinnati Reds isn't too out of the ordinary for him despite his average at best defensive skills which can be attributed to the fact that he's aging. His UZR in the outfield was a less than desirable -15.3 while playing this past season for the Reds. Teams won't be trying to sign Choo for his defense, they'll be trying to sign him because he gets on base a lot and hits with consistency.

So here we are in the middle of December. Where will Choo land? Here's a breakdown of teams interested even though I believe there is only one realistic scenario.

Houston Astros

Yes, with the acquisition of Dexter Fowler, the Astros appear to be turning the corner from where they were just a market for promising minor league. They lost 111 games last year, and they're likely to lose 90-100 games again this year. 

They are still two to three years away from actually competing, so making a big splash like this now would make zero sense for this rebuilding organization. Also, other than money, it wouldn't benefit Choo in the slightest, especially since he can get plenty more from a couple of other teams.

Cincinnati Reds

Reds GM Walt Jocketty met with Boras at the Winter Meetings, but came away empty -- “I think we have to move on. I think that's how we have to plan, anyhow. We have to plan as if we're moving on.”

If the Reds could trade second baseman Brandon Phillips for a cheap but reasonable return, that would open up a little more cap space. Although Cincinnati would likely have to pay a fair chunk of Phillips' remaining salary, some flexibility would be there.

Right now the NL Central figures to be a two or three horse race, but the Reds are that third horse. The St. Louis Cardinals will no-doubt be the favorites, while the emerging Pittsburgh Pirates are no longer baseball's whipping post. If the Reds are to compete for a playoff spot in 2014, they should look to at least making an attempt to bring back Choo.

Seattle Mariners

Yes, the Mariners just dropped $240 million on Robinson Cano. Yes, they also just signed OF/1B Corey Hart to a deal worth $6 million guaranteed and up to $13 million with incentives. So, do they have anything else to spend? If they do, Choo is the most viable option.

Although I believe the Mariners need one more starting pitcher to even be in the AL West discussion next season, another bat never hurts. With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison being acquired on the same day, it's unclear if Justin Smoak will still be in the picture.

The Mariners seem to have deeper pockets than anyone thought possible, and with the big name signing of Cano, other stars may start looking in Seattle's direction. When it's all said and done, though, the following team will be the one to land the Boras man.

Prediction: Choo signs 6-year/$130MM contract with the Texas Rangers

This off-season has been interesting for the Rangers. They missed out on coveted catcher Brian McCann, but acquired a power bat in Prince Fielder. Closer Joe Nathan signed a two-year deal with the Tigers already, so Texas appears to have lost more than they gained. Ian Kinsler, the player traded to acquire Fielder, will be missed at the top of that lineup.

They also appear set on not having outfielder Nelson Cruz next season. Pair that with the fact that they no longer have their lead-off hitter in Kinsler anymore, Choo makes perfect sense for this franchise. At the beginning of this entire off-season, I didn't believe Choo would get in Ellsbury's range in terms of salary, let alone Werth's range. It's not that I underestimate Scott Boras, it's that I didn't think a team would spend that much on a lead-off hitter.

With the market thinning, though, Boras and his client aren't going to take an offer just to take one. He never sells his client short, so it's not out of the question that even a seven-year deal will happen.

The Texas Rangers have the money, but more importantly Choo is a need for them. Scott Boras knows this, and we already know how much baseball teams have been willing to spend.

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