Mets To Go After Pending Free Agent Shin-Soo Choo?


In today’s Daily News, Andy Martino cites league executives and team insiders who expect the Mets to go after impending free agent Shin-Soo Choo this offseason.  Writes Martino:

"‘Hearing Choo is the guy they like,’ said one rival executive last week, and he isn’t the only one in the industry making that connection.  I ran that by a Mets official who has been briefed on Sandy Alderson’s thinking, and got this response: ‘I’m hearing that, too.’"

Shin-Soo Choo turned 31 on July 13th, and is the type of player that tickles Sandy Alderson’s fancy.  He gets on base at a tremendous clip (he has a .425 OBP this season, and his career OBP is .389), and provides decent power (he’ll hit roughly 20 homers per year).

Sep 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds batter Shin Soo Choo (17) watches a hit leave the infield during the 5th inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

As Martino notes, the emergence of Juan Lagares as an elite defender in center field would mean the Mets would ask Choo to play one of the corner outfield spots – likely right field.  Choo’s defense in center field is poor, so acquiring him to play one of the corners should be the only option on the table.

As far as what the Mets are willing to pay for Choo, here’s what Martino wrote:

"A second Mets source said that the team liked Choo — this is no state secret, as the Cincinnati outfielder has a .425 on-base percentage this year (.389 career), with 20 home runs — but are not interested in engaging in a crazy bidding war for the 31-year-old Scott Boras client. Basically, the Mets really like the player, but are comfortable turning elsewhere if the market outpaces what they expect (this is an unsurprising public position)."

Martino points out that a Mets official stating that they’re not interested in getting into a “crazy bidding war” for Choo is an “unsurprising public position,” and he’s correct.

While many fans will parse the words of the unnamed Mets official and determine that the Mets will sit on the periphery of the Choo negotiations without diving in, a Mets official stating publicly that they’re not interested in a “crazy bidding war” is wise.

Choo is a Scott Boras client who is about to hit free agency.  He’ll be highly sought after.  The last thing the Mets should be doing is making themselves out to be desperate.  If Choo is indeed their main target, and the bidding doesn’t become absurd, I expect Sandy Alderson to get his man.  Still, Choo isn’t the type of player you hand a blank check to.  The price would have to be right.

Choo is making $7.4 million this year, and will likely be seeking to at least double that AAV.  He’ll be playing the majority of the 2014 season at age 31, so it’s likely that he’ll be seeking six years guaranteed.  Whether other teams are willing to make that investment will dictate how the negotiations go, but it shouldn’t be surprising if Choo gets his six years.

A six year, $90 million dollar deal might be able to get it done for Choo.  Perhaps a five year deal with a higher AAV and a sixth year option would do the trick as well.

Martino points out in his article that the Mets would likely be adding Choo while looking to trade for a high impact power outfield bat.  If that’s the case, they would be choosing Choo over Jacoby Ellsbury.  Ellsbury, another Boras client, is 14 months younger than Choo, is a much better defender, and is a much bigger threat on the bases.

The issue with Ellsbury is health.  He’s been plagued by injuries over the last several seasons, and is dealing with an injured foot at the moment.  If Ellsbury is seeking a similar deal to the one Choo is seeking (which should be expected), I’d guess that Alderson would take the safer bet in Choo.

The season is winding down, and both the Reds and Red Sox (barring a collapse) will be playing in the postseason.  Both Choo and Ellsbury could potentially have the entire month of October to continue to show their stuff.  After that, it’s decision time for Alderson and the Mets.

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