Shin-Soo Choo is the only elite free agent the Mets are expected to pursue this off season, a team insider recently told ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.
Scott Boras is going to try and get at least a $100 million deal for Choo, the powerful agent told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in September.
Heyman talked to three league executives who guessed Choo will instead end up signing a four- or five-year deal worth around $15 million a season, similar to contracts signed by B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher.
Choo finished 2013 batting .285 with 21 home runs, 54 RBI, 20 stolen bases and a team record 26 hit-by-pitches. He also set a career high .423 OBP.
In 11 big-league seasons, Choo has never been named to an All-Star team.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
I don’t think Sandy Alderson will overpay for Choo. The way I understand it, the Mets like him, but they are worried about his struggles against left-handed pitching. Also, he’s coming off the best year of his career, which he’s not likely to replicate. He’s 31 years old, and his power is not likely to translate well to Citi Field. I’ve heard it, they’re open to paying him slightly more than Bourn, who signed with the Indians for four-years at $12 million a season, if they have to. This seems fair to me. I like Choo. I think he fits well, but a fifth or sixth year and a few extra million each year is pushing his value…
Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
Choo’s biggest strength, and his greatest appeal to the Mets, is his on-base percentage. His .423 mark ranked 4th in baseball in 2013. He also got on base at a .399 clip while away from the cushy confines of Great American Ballpark. That would be top on the Mets this year, even higher than David Wright, whose offensive production he comes close to matching by a number of metrics, as far back as 2007.
Though it matters less in the leadoff position, which he is an ideal candidate, Choo also offers some power. He had 57 extra base hits this past season, almost half of which came on the road (including 11 of his 21 home runs). Playing 81 games at Citi, you expect the home run totals to decrease, but he would also likely hit more doubles and triples, which from the leadoff spot are almost as valuable as home runs. Defense is his biggest weakness, as he cost the Reds 18 runs in centerfield, mostly due to poor range. This is not his natural position, though, and a move to left should cut down on this number, as will playing next to Juan Lagares. With improved defense, Choo is easily a 4+ WAR player – quite the upgrade from the 0.8 WAR Eric Young Jr. provided this season.
Andrew Wharton, Contributor
Choo would be a definite improvement over any outfielder currently on the roster. Understandably, many fans are still licking their wounds from the Jason Bay deal, but this situation is a little different because 1) the Mets have a lot more payroll freedom, and 2) Choo should not be expected to fix this team by himself. Because he’s somewhat comparable to Wright in many ways, I think fans would grow to love Choo as a hard-working, well-rounded player capable of filling a big hole at the top of the order. The Mets will need to overpay, and I’m fine with that because having one or two overpaid players is not the same as having a team full of immovable contracts.
Michael Baron, Contributor
Choo would be a very good fit for the Mets. He projects more as a below-average corner outfielder, but has become a very good leadoff guy. He strikes out a bit, but he knows how to get on-base a ton and has good speed, although he was only 20-for-31 in stolen base attempts this year. Despite the home-road splits, the Mets don’t exactly have the attributes Choo provides for the top of their order. However, as was the case with Michael Bourn last February, the Mets need to be careful about committing the bulk of a potential contract to a player on the other side of 30 years old.