Rangers Cross Off Final To-Do by Signing Choo

Until this afternoon, the Rangers had a fairly complete team, save for left field, which was a mixture of never-was’ and might-be’s. For a team that was struggling to keep up this offseason with its counterparts in the Bay Area and Orange County, that simply wasn’t going to cut it. A move needed to be made, and today Texas made their move by signing Shin-Soo Choo.

Currently, the starting left fielder on the Rangers’ depth chart is Jim Adduci. Last season, Adduci made his major league debut, and tallied eight hits in 34 plate appearances. Not bad, except when you consider the fact that it was Adduci’s age-28 season. With him fronting the group, the Rangers’ left field options ranked just 28th on our depth charts entering today.

Perhaps you don’t care for him — perhaps you’re more of the opinion that Engel Beltre should be the starter. The prescription with Beltre would have been a lot of defense, and a whole lot of 0-fers. In seven minor league seasons, Beltre has hit just .264/.312/.383. Triple-slash lines don’t always tell the whole story, but if it doesn’t tell the whole story, it certainly details the majority of it.

Then there’s Michael Choice, acquired by the Rangers in exchange for Craig Gentry. Choice certainly has potential, and the uptick in his walk rate at Triple-A last season was certainly encouraging. But entrusting him with the left field job when you’re preparing to compete for a division title probably wasn’t the best idea in the world. Certainly Oakland wasn’t willing to do it, and they probably knew Choice better than the Rangers do. If Choice plays well enough in his opportunities as the team’s fourth outfielder this season, the Rangers will have the luxury of declining Alex Rios‘ $13.5 million option, but for this season trusting Choice probably wasn’t the best course of action.

Of course, that didn’t mean the Rangers needed to run out and buy the most expensive bauble remaining on the free-agent market. They could have gone the route the Orioles did this week — trading for a less expensive, but also less productive player — and paired him with Choice. Certainly there is no shortage of left-handed hitting outfielders who crush righties out there. Seth Smith has barely unpacked his bags in San Diego, for instance. But that’s not what the Rangers chose to do. In signing Choo, they upgraded their on-base percentage immeasurably, and gave themselves the opportunity to have one of the game’s premiere offenses once again.

I say once again because Texas didn’t exactly brutalize opponents last season. Many of us in this community took great pains to show how smart Texas was to avoid re-signing Josh Hamilton, and at the end of the day, they probably were. But the offense did suffer, whether from the lack of his presence in the lineup, or from the depth on the team being extended just that little extra bit in compensating for his loss. Once you remove pitchers hitting from the equation, the Rangers’ offense finished seventh in wRC+ in 2012, but that number dipped to 19th in 2013. They were middling in both power (16th in ISO) and patience (14th in OBP), leaving them with little going for them. Choo will upgrade both, but particularly the team’s OBP.

Since he became a regular in 2008, there have only been nine qualified players who have posted a better OBP than has Choo, and three of them — Manny Ramirez, Lance Berkman and Chipper Jones — are either retired or semi-retired. Of the other six, only one is an outfielder — Mike Trout. Put another way, the only outfielder in the past six years to get on base at a better rate than Choo is the best player in baseball. That’s nothing at which you should shake a stick.

It should also be noted that one of the other six is one of his new teammates, Prince Fielder. Past results are not necessarily predictive of future results and all that, but it’s hard to imagine injecting more offense into a ballclub than the Rangers have with the additions of Fielder and Choo. This is especially true when you consider that the one player lost in acquiring Fielder and Choo — Ian Kinsler — may be ably replaced offensively by his replacement, Jurickson Profar.

This should be a fairly big shot in the arm for Texas’ offense, and as an added bonus, it balances their lineup completely. Ostensibly now, of the nine players in the Rangers’ starting lineup, four hit right-handed (Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre, Geovany Soto and Rios), four hit left-handed (Leonys Martin, Mitch Moreland, Choo and Fielder) and one hits both ways (Profar). Not too shabby.

Much has been made of Choo’s platoon splits, and they are significant. As I noted at ESPN earlier in the week, Choo has slugged just .293 against lefties across the past three seasons. Among qualified players, the only player worse has been Justin Morneau. It is likely in these situations where the Rangers will attempt to break Choice into the lineup. If leveraged properly, the Rangers will get the best of both worlds — they’ll get an opportunity to give Choo a breather every now and then while also giving Choice the best possible chance to successfully transition into major league life.

The only downside so far is that the deal is for seven years, but even here the Rangers didn’t do that poorly. The team has not been shy about handing out long-term extensions — Fielder, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Elvis Andrus are already on the books through 2017 — but in getting Choo at $130 million rather than the $143 million or more that agent Scott Boras wanted, Texas was able to shave his AAV down under the $20 million line. That’s not bad. FanGraphs has Choo as having been worth more than $20 million in three of the past five seasons, and those estimates may be conservative. Having so many big contracts on the books for so long isn’t great, but if there is one skill I’m willing to bet on experiencing a slower decline, it’s OBP, and Choo and Fielder have that in spades.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, this was the last move they needed to make. When you have multiple holes to fill on your roster, signing someone like say oh I don’t know, Robinson Cano, isn’t going to help much in the grand scheme of things. But when the player essentially completes the team, as Choo does, it becomes a lot more defensible. Maybe the Rangers could upgrade their bullpen or their DH position, but they are essentially done for the winter now, unless they blow something up. That makes the decision to sign Choo a whole lot easier, especially when he comes cheaper than expected.

Before today, the Rangers were about one player short of a full, contending team. They had a hole in left field that was shaky at best and untenable at worst. It was forecasted to be one of the worst in the game, and even if you had flipped Choice to the top of the heap and Adduci and Engel Beltre down, it would still have been safely ensconced in the bottom 10 teams. Bringing Choo into the fold changes that in just about as much as they possibly could, and helps ensure that the three-way race for the American League West (sorry, Houston and Seattle) will once again be must-see baseball.




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Paul Swydan is the co-managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for ESPN Insider. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.

153 Responses to “Rangers Cross Off Final To-Do by Signing Choo”

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  1. Visitor says:

    “Perhaps you don’t care for him — perhaps you more of the opinion that Engel Beltre.”

    Was this supposed to say that perhaps you thought that Beltre would start or that he should start or something different entirely?

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  2. Aggie E says:

    EVERYONE ABOARD THE CHOO_CHOO TRAIN!! Next stop ARLINGTON TEXAS!!!!

    +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Dylan says:

    Just wondering, did the AL as a whole do worse in wRC+ once you remove pitchers last year? They got to use their DH less often, the NL got to use their DH more often, I’m wondering if that had an impact.

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    • BenS says:

      In 2013 the AL had a non-pitcher 99 wRC+ and the NL had a non-pitcher 100 wRC+. For non-pitcher wOBA the AL was .319 and the NL was .318. Basically once you factor out pitchers the leagues are the same.

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      • Kevin says:

        That’s because those stats are league-neutralized I’m pretty sure. We can’t tell which league is better from stats that take the league out of the picture.

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        • teakayfortoowon says:

          If they were league neutralized then the AL would 100 too yes?

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        • teakayfortoowon says:

          *would have 100 too

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        • BenS says:

          wRC+ is park and league adjusted. I meant to include that fact. It’s why I included wOBA which is not park and league adjusted. For wRC, which also is not park and league adjusted, the AL has a non-pitcher wRC of 10501 for 2013 and the NL is 9783 but wRC is a counting stat and the NL has less non-pitcher plate appearances. Non-pitcher wRC/PA is .114 for the AL and .113 for the NL. wRAA/PA is .004 for the AL and .003 for the NL. Triple slash is .256/.321/.406 for the Al and .258/.323/.401. The leagues are clearly equal when it comes to non-pitcher batting.

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  4. TheGrandslamwich says:

    Why would the Rangers decline the $13.5mil option on Rios? Yeah he’s had some inconsistent years, but he’s been worth it the last 2. I don’t see any reason that he wont do that again.

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    • Ray says:

      I think the idea is that if Choice proves ready for a full-time gig they may have a 90% replacement for Rios at a fraction of the cost, they could use that money elsewhere. I agree, he’s been worth that kind of money in most seasons, but Choice may be ready for a full-time gig in 2015.

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      • Evan says:

        I’d bet even if they felt that way Rios @ 1/13.5 would have enough trade value to motivate Texas into picking up the option

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    • Careless says:

      Steamer’s predicting 1.2 WAR next season, so his projection for 2015 is presumably not worth close to $13.5

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      • TheGrandslamwich says:

        That seems very pessimistic for a player who has posted over 3 WAR 6 of the last 8 years and hasn’t shown any real sign of a degrading skill set. Oliver does have him at 2.9 though. Even though his value is heavily based on his BABIP, teams would be jumping at him for 13.5 on a one year deal.

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      • Matt says:

        I don’t put a lot of stock into what Steamer has to say.

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  5. teakayfortoowon says:

    “In signing Choo, they upgraded their on-base percentage immeasurably…”

    If only we had a way of measuring OBP…

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    • Jack says:

      We do, it involves dividing times on base by plate appearances. Not that complicated.

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    • Ryan says:

      In Mr. Swydan’s defense, accurately measuring the future impact of Choo on the Rangers’ OBP is basically impossible, since projections of Choo’s future OBP are inherently uncertain and– ok, I can’t make that point with a straight face.

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      • teakayfortoowon says:

        I don’t mean anything by it, though I did find it to be a strange choice of words.

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      • shoewizard says:

        Actually…The key for Choo is he must reverse his trend of declining fly ball rate and soaring GB rate.

        His HR/FB ratio has been fairly stable, and was up a bit last year, but he’s hitting far fewer fly ball. He is a consistent high BABIP hitter, but as he ages that will of course go down as he loses a step down the line, ESPECIALLY if he keeps hitting so many ground balls.

        As his BABIP and B.A. drop, so too does his OBP, and in the meantime he doesn’t hit enough homers to cause pitchers to fear him. So he’ll walk less. In short, the thing that makes him most valuable, the OBP, is likely to see a steep decline over the middle years of this contract if he does not reverse the Groundball trend and become a more consistent Homerun threat.

        Contradictory, I know…..but that’s the way it looks to me.

        The jump in GB rate the last two years is a huge red flag to me. BUT…..if he trades about 4-5 % GB back to FB, in Texas, he will maintain his value for a good deal longer.

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  6. Shankbone says:

    “If leveraged properly, the Rangers will get the best of both worlds — they’ll get an opportunity to give Choo a breather”… That’s hilarious. If Dayton Moore or RAJ had signed this deal the tone would be completely different. But Ivy League educated Jon Daniels signed the deal, so its understandable.

    The Rangers got much worse in fielding over the winter break, and last time I checked that does count for something in the playoffs. So they look like a train wreck to me… so naturally they’re going back to the World Series!

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    • Albert says:

      If Ruben Amaro did this deal, it would be completely different because the Phillies are not contenders for 2014.

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Shankbone says:

        Paying 130MM for a OF with this bad a platoon split (and defensive stats that aren’t good at all) is insane. All worship the God of OBP, the GMs that are “saber friendly” and hope for the best. The likelihood of this deal turning out well even in the first couple of years isn’t good. Then it gets ugly.

        Amaro is at the limit of his budget. Or he might have given this a try. Jon Daniels is closing out his options as well.

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        • Aggie E says:

          You have intimate knowledge of the Rangers payroll constraints do you?

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        • AJ says:

          I don’t like it either. The platoon splits and defensive metrics both point to huge holes in his game. He’s also extremely BABIP dependent, and I wonder if that will fall as he ages.

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        • Shankbone says:

          I know that pretty much every MLB team is capped out at 3 100MM plus contracts (give or take on the 10MMs with each market) except the Yankees. The Tigers were able to get out from under Fielder to allow further moves. Most teams aren’t going to be able to get out from these contracts. The Angels took on V. Wells, that was an exception. I can’t see Hamilton or Pujols being tradeable, the Yankees haven’t been able to move their big contracts, so you get stuck. In Texas favor, they always go big, so maybe they could swing a trade to get out from under Fielder or Choo in 3-4 years. But there are very few markets for those type of contracts.

          And with very few exceptions, big nine figure contracts have turned horrible. The Cards are considered savvy for “letting Pujols go” but if his ego had turned a different way they’d be sidled with that right now.

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    • Steve dalkowski says:

      The Rangers also have significant Young and Cost controlled talent.

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      • Shankbone says:

        I look forward to Price Fielder’s next oops moment on the national stage as Choo Choo desperately tries to coax a walk off a lefty while that talent is stacked and racked with the Rangers getting nothing but demands for their #1 prospect. The only reason they have the talent in the minors btw is they outspend every team by a huge margin in IFA. It should be fun to see what Profar does this year, but to my eyes he is a good solid player who does a few things well, not a break out superstar.

        Jon Daniels used to be my favorite new age GM. He’s made mistake after mistake lately, messing with his great pen arms as starter conversions, the Davis trade and now taking on two huge salaries that look like bad bet for the future and already look like defensive liabilities. So it goes…

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        • Aggie E says:

          Did Daniels do something to you buddy?

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        • Brad says:

          Shankbone,

          Your responses to random commenters over the last few weeks have been quite toxic. I really, really hope you are not as obtuse and arrogant as you come across. You don’t have it all figured out and it doesn’t hurt to appreciate/listen to others opinions. Who knows, you might even learn something…

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        • Shankbone says:

          Aggie E – he pissed in my cheerios.

          Brad – don’t know how I offended you or your buddy’s delicate sensibilities but going personal works really well. Keep at buddy.

          -34 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Aggie E says:

      Didnt know small market Royals had same payroll availability as Texas or were as good as Texas…

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      • AB says:

        Man. You’re welcome to disagree with this move, but you’re flat out over the top on how you’re doing it.

        First, if Dayton Moore had signed this deal, we’d be saying “Great, Glass has found some money and is putting it towards his team!”

        Second, where does this whole argument of getting “significantly worse” come from. Choo’s a pretty decent corner outfielder. Yes, he was a bad center fielder, but he’s got a fantastic arm and plays the corner fairly well. Yes, Fielder sometimes flops around like a beached water mammal, but it is first base you know. I’ll remind you that the Tigers nearly got to the World Series with him at first AND Miguel Cabrera at 3b (!). To top it off, the Rangers now have a short stop manning the keystone. We’ll have to see how Profar plays, but there is a chance for that to be a very, very special double play tandem. So, there’s a decent chance this new defensive configuration has overall improvement as a possible outcome.

        Third, paying under $20m per season for a guy who just put up a 5 win season (in spite of his splits) is clearly not insane. It’s not even an outlier season. Sure, he will see decline towards the back end of this deal, but I would prefer this deal a heck of a lot more than what other outfielders have been getting (Crawford/Pence). It’s certainly not the deal of the century, but when you’re a player away, this deal kind of makes perfect sense. Add in the inflation of baseball contracts, and the price tag becomes less of a waste (as an example, it doesn’t seem insane to be paying Alex Rios $13.5m next year; but remember when we all hated his contract?)

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        • Shankbone says:

          It was more of a general comment with Moore/Amaro as the village idiots. Yes, Moore doesn’t have that budget.

          I’d disagree on Choo’s fielding ability and his arm, but that’s just me. I would call him a slightly better version of Andre Ethier. I thought he was always extremely underrated, a nice 20-20 guy. When you start paying 20-20 guys this kind of money you start limiting your options. But its a good point that there aren’t that many options out there. But here’s the rub: Choo will be 32-33-34-35-36-37-38. You’re not getting 20 SBs out of him for much longer.

          I’d take Pence in a heartbeat for the age and durability, taking the ding with the hacking/obp. I think he’ll be a relative bargain comped to Choo. I understand the supply/demand, so landing choo takes a huge commit. But there’s just too many iffy things, most of all that platoon split. To pay huge money to a guy, I’d demand better.

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        • KG says:

          “paying under $20m per season for a guy who just put up a 5 win season is clearly not insane.”

          Pence just put up a 5.4 win season, a hair over Choo’s 5.2. True Pence’s game is more predicated on declinable skills, but he is a year younger than Choo and got 2 fewer years and $40m less.

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    • jim says:

      “But when the player essentially completes the team, as Choo does, it becomes a lot more defensible.”

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    • buddaley says:

      I don’t get the comment about defense. Last year Nelson Cruz played 102 games in RF. Seems to me whether Choo plays LF or RF, replacing Cruz with him is an upgrade.

      I will defer to those who are more knowledgeable about fielding evaluations, but my impression is that the change from Murphy to Choo in a corner is not a downgrade either nor is the switch at 1B from Moreland to Fielder significant.

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      • Jim Price says:

        Fielder is definitely a downgrade, maybe the worst 1B in baseball.

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        • Matt says:

          Fielder playing a few games for inter-league play is a marginal downgrade. Unless the Rangers are idiots, Fielder is getting paid to hit and not much else.

          Moreland is average or better with the glove.

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        • Not naive says:

          Pretty sure Brandon Moss is just as bad… didn’t bother the A’s..

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      • RC says:

        Choo:
        2013: -17.0/150 in CF
        2012: -15.8/150 in RF

        Cruz:
        2013: -6.5/150 in RF
        2012: -3/150 in RF

        Cruz is a bad outfielder. Choo is worse. Significantly worse. There’s almost no chance Choo is an upgrade in defense.

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    • Dirck says:

      Getting two of the guys with the highest OBP’s in baseball has to be a huge plus for the Rangers offensively and I don’t see the huge fielding drop off that you mention . Yes Fielder is a butcher ,but he isn’t replacing a gold glover and he might spend a fair amount of time at DH as well.Profar could very easily be a defensive upgrade over Kinsler at 2B and Choo is not a huge downgrade defensively from Murphy .Getting rid of Cruz in RF is a major defensive upgrade.

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    • BPB82 says:

      How did the Rangers get “much worse in fielding” this offseason? They look like a trainwreck? Would love to hear your explanation for such dim witted opinions. As well as play in a fantasy league against you. What do you finish in the bottom quarter of every league you play in.?

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    • Matt says:

      ‘The Rangers got much worse in fielding over the winter break’

      They subtracted a league average 2B in Kinsler (less than league average over the last 2 years) for a 20 year old with tremendous defensive skills. Steamers has this as a +2.6 upgrade.
      Defensive+

      They switched out one bad OF in Cruz for another in Choo. Steamers has Cruz at -9.8 and Choo at -15.4 – but steamers thinks that Choo is a CF, so this is about wash and may even be an upgrade (that’s just how bad Nelson Cruz is at defense).
      Defensive unchanged

      And they traded for a guy who will predominantly play DH aside from inter-league play.
      Defensive unchanged

      So by ‘much worse fielding’ I assume you actually mean ‘slightly better’?

      The Rangers have projected themselves into being possibly the second best team in baseball. Not sure how anyone can complain right now.

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      • TheGrandslamwich says:

        Is it official that Fielder will primarily be a DH? I know in free agency and with the Tigers he insisted he wanted to play the field and not be a regular DH.

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      • RC says:

        Cruz has been about -5/150 over his last 2 years.

        Choo has been -15/150 over the last 2 years (half in CF, half in RF).

        I don’t know what steamer is looking at, but there’s no way Choo isn’t a downgrade over Cruz defensively.

        Cruz is bad, but Choo has no range, and takes bad routes. He’s a DH in outfielder’s clothing.

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    • Bryan Butler says:

      Shankbone,

      Its funny to me how ignorant your opinion is on the Choo signing and the Rangers offseason. Its unfortunate for the people who actually know baseball to have to skim through the clueless garbage written by you on this page. Just reading your opinion made me and the rest of the people who saw it dumber. If I were you I would stop writing about baseball your knowledge is clearly below the Mendoza line. Or I would find a more amateur website forum to express your invalid thoughts, ideas and opinions on such as Yahoo. Thanks and please keep your irrelevant opinion to yourself.

      Sincerely,
      Bryan

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  7. Radivel says:

    If Jim Adduci and company is 28th, who’s worse than that?

    And also, all of a sudden the Rangers are insanely scary. Yikes.

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  8. Sear says:

    This is a good signing- for about two years – and then albatross. The AL West would like to thank the Rangers for picking up fielder/Choo. Esp. The Angels says thanks for not making us look so stupid. xoxoxo

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  9. Hawkeyecub says:

    Given how abundant and cheap lefty-mashers are (Jeff Baker, for example, has a career 129 OPS+ against LHP and could be had for about S2 million), I don’t really see a big disincentive to signing a guy who can crush 80% of the pitchers, and then give way to a cheap guy who can come in and crush the remaining 20%. Put another way, isn’t it just as valuable to have a guy that tees off against 80% of pitchers (and sits for the remaining 20%) as it is to have a guy who is a pretty good hitter against 100% of pitchers?

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    • Matt says:

      I agree in principle with the idea of using platoon splits to your advantage, Hawkeyecub. However, in this era of 12-man pitching staffs, AL teams have to be very careful about their benches because we are really talking about 3 non-catchers to cover the remaining 7 positions. In other words, your bench needs to be made up of guys who can play 2 or 3 positions. It is getting harder and harder to carry a guy just to platoon with one other player.

      Teams like Oakland and St. Louis seem to have it figured out, in that they will carry enough moveable parts as regulars to play the splits against the starter they face on any given day. Versatility is becoming an increasingly valuable commodity.

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  10. GoodasGoldy says:

    So what’s the projected bump to Beltre’s RBI projections with OBP studs Choo and Fielder now likely to be in front of him? Steamer had him at 99 and Oliver 90 before these two came on board.

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    • pft says:

      The RBI police didn’t slam you, lucky you, but I have to imagine they improve by roughly the same % as the OBP of the top 3 spots increase, all else being equal. Too lazy to calculate for ya.

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  11. Eric H says:

    This article is drivel. Poor sentence structure and syntax and rife with grammatical errors. Disappointing quality by Fangraphs standards.

    -37 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mr Pedantic says:

      Technically speaking, your comment consists of one complete sentence and two sentence fragments.

      +64 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Eric H says:

        I’M NOT THE FUCKING WRITER, OKAY?

        -39 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • MrMan says:

          But if you’re going to complain about sentence structure and syntax it would probably server you well to pay attention to those things.

          +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eric H says:

          Since you seem to have missed it the first time, I DON’T WRITE THE FUCKING ARTICLES. Nobody gives a shit about my grammar except for you for some reason.

          -36 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eric's mom says:

          I apologize, earth. I drank HEAVILY while Eric was in the womb.

          And even more heavily after he came out.

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      • LongPastChanukah says:

        Eric H hasn’t a leg to stand on, as he was mean and for no reason.

        But I legitimately do not understand why FanGraphs’ readers are so giddy about comments that parse comments that parse the post.

        No one really cares about sentence fragments. That’s a primary school convention quickly forgotten by anyone that writes and reads rather than memorizes silly rules for purposes of grandstanding. Literature is rife with sentence fragments.

        And the above post is pretty damn lacking in quality. How some of these sentences survived a simple read-over, I don’t know. And it hurts the site because it requires no specialized knowledge or particularly exacting standards to realize, “hey! this is awkwardly worded, sloppy, and at times nonsensical.” A troubling frequency of posts at FanGraphs are, and each one is a GIDP.

        It would be nice if criticism were more respectful, but, you know, tough titty. It’s not a nice world. Those that rush to bully the bullies, and those that rush to up-vote these protectors of the author, are helping no one. Cut rate work and a readership that silences criticism is a fast track to irrelevance.

        (It’s worse than that, actually. Chilling, even. To see that curious human need to honor leaders and smother criticism, to enforce orthodoxy, and rally in the defense of the indefensible … trivial at FanGraphs; spooky that seemingly smart, questioning people are prone to it too.)

        +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • marcel says:

          Is your mother’s basement cork-lined?

          -12 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Matt says:

          In case you guys didn’t notice – this was written on a Saturday and is outside of their normal publishing. It probably wasn’t edited because everyone was off.

          I, for one, am not going to complain about bonus content published on someone’s day off.

          +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • teakayfortoowon says:

          I haven’t seen any problems with respectful, constructive criticism on this site. I’ve seen comments disagree with the author’s entire premise and conclusion but not be downvoted, and sometimes even upvoted if a good point was made well enough.

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      • Nathaniel Dawson says:

        And yet, sentence fragments and all, his comment was still perfectly readable and easily comprehended. Much more than I can say for a lot of what the author wrote.

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        • iyfiyifi says:

          “Perhaps you don’t care for him — perhaps you more of the opinion that Engel Beltre. The prescription with Beltre would have been a lot of defense, and a whole lot of 0-fers.”

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    • Yu, Choo - God Bless Yu says:

      Must be a slow Saturday for the literary police to have to show up at a baseball blog crime scene …

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    • Billy says:

      I have a feeling this dude is just joking around. Anyone meticulous enough to seriously post that comment probably wouldn’t make mistakes like that.

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    • Boris Chinchilla says:

      Here’s my attempt to use “drivel” in a sentence…So I was poking around on fangraphs and saw some dumb piece of crap actually use the word drivel.

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    • Danny says:

      And for some reason nobody seems to care about the alleged grammatical errors in the article except for you.

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  12. Jack says:

    The Rangers are out of their minds this offseason. Fielder was the worst contract in baseball, and they said sure bring him aboard, and while you’re at it take this lesser contract we have. Now, they say, hey this guy who can’t play D and have serious platoon issues, let’s give him $18M+ until he’s 38. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this desperate organization.

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    • Baltar says:

      The Rangers may have spent too much in doing so, but they sure have assembled a fearsome team. The 3 or possibly 4 team fight in the AL West should be a doozy next season.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jack says:

        Ok, but why is no one bashing their plan? Prince wasn’t that great last year, and wasn’t worth the money. Choo can’t play D and is a platoon player, what is that team doing? If this were a team with a GM who people didn’t think highly of, these moves would be laughed at. These moves are on par with Ruben Amarao, Jr, but no one wants to say that.

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        • MrMan says:

          No one’s bashing the plan because the plan puts the team in position to WIN.

          The very GM you dismiss as laughable has assembled a deep rotation, a deep bullpen, numerous arms in the minors….and now a much more capable lineup than the one that won 91 games in 2013.

          Many signings make sense for one team, but would be outrageous for another team. For instance, signing Cano at $240 would have been ho-hum for the Yankees, but for Seattle, it’s a questionable move because they don’t seem to be one player away from contention.

          The Rangers, however, just needed some offense to make them a serious 2013 contender. They’ve done what they need to do. Will Choo and Fielder be overpaid, underproductive players in 2019? Sure. But what free-agent signing isn’t so?

          Rangers are still in great position to contend for the foreseeable future due to numerous (relatively) young players signed long-term and a decently deep minor league system.

          When they are contending in September….for the sixth season in a row….come back and make the same criticisms.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Vince says:

          When did it become accepted that Choo is some sort of defensive disaster? He had bad numbers last year – while playing 150 games in CF for a playoff team. Guys who can even fake CF are generally more than adequate in a corner – is there some reason to think Choo is an exception?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jim says:

      look at how the rangers last four years have ended, and tell me honestly, that they should be expected to not be at least a little desperate

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MrMan says:

        Basically Rangers have finished one play….maybe one player…away each of the last three years. Many of their own fans bemoan both 2013 and 2012 for the team not making that ONE move that might have made the difference.

        I’m not agreeing that makes you desperate…but it makes any move mover understandable.

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    • Mr. Jones says:

      Albert Pujols says hello.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pft says:

      That 18 will be worth about 12 in 7 years. I guess the Rangers may value offense more than defense, at least on the corners.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. MikeS says:

    I think they can go now after Kendrys since they lost compensation pick already with Choo, and 2/25 would be a good addition with low risk, I wonder if that would be enough for Boras.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Jack says:

    A platoon player for $130M? That’s possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Jack says:

    Uh, Shinn-Soo has played all of 524 innings at LF in the majors. Assuming much about his ability to handle that spot?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baltar says:

      The move from right-fielder and center-fielder to left-fielder may be difficult, but I’m sure he can handle it in the same mediocre fashion as he handled the tougher fields.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jim says:

      he’s got 6400 in the other two spots, including about 3600 as an average to slightly above average RF before 2012.

      but it would have been way too easy to look at that kind of thing yourself i guess

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jack says:

        Below average in 2011. But I’m sure the aging curve doesn’t apply to him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jack says:

          Below average in 2012, my bad.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Larnold Feltonbuns says:

          You should alter your name if you’re going to post slightly different comments repeatedly. I look forward to hearing from Jacque. If you must remain as Jack, please consolidate in the future.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • genghiskhanull says:

          Yeah, seriously. What did Choo do to you to deserve such wrath? It may be an overpay but it’s certainly not egregious when you take into account other contracts signed this winter and the annual increase in dollars/WAR. Relax, guy.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. pft says:

    Oakland got worse, and the Angels stayed pat, so I don’t really see a 3 way race. Maybe 2 way with Oakland. Of course, if Pujols and Hamilton bounce back it could be a 3 man.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      How exactly did Oakland get worse? They lost Balfour, Colon, and Blevins. They gained Punto, Johnson, Gregerson, Gentry and Kazmir and the entire rest of their rotation is on the good side of age curves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Matt says:

        I’m sure I’d be agreeing with you if it wasn’t for the way you started your list of examples.

        You lost me at Punto…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • pft says:

        I would take Balfour and Colon over Kazmir and Johnson anyday, that’s really the key to my belief they are worse. Johnso killed the Orioles with his blown saves last year and Kazmirs 2013 season looks like a fluke to me

        Gregerson is a nice addition but Gentry and Punto are role players.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Helladecimal says:

          Wait a second.

          Kazmir’s season a fluke?

          Is getting Kazmir for 2 years risky compared to a 40+ year old FB thrower who struggles to reach 200 innings, and a 36 year old closer who is scaring teams away with his physical?

          You must have an interesting way of thinking.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • pft says:

          I am not talking about risk, just saying based on last years performance Colon and Balfour outpitched the 2 players Oakland got to replace them. Colons been remarkably durable and consistent the past 3 years unlike Kazmire. As for Balfours physical, whatever, but he had good numbers last year and its unlikely Johnson matches them. Hence my conclusion Oakland is weaker.

          Still strong as I said, but Texas looks a bit better.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Helladecimal says:

      Got to agree with Grandslamwich.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BJsworld says:

      Yes – I’m sure that both Pujols and Hamilton are essentially finished. I mean they did both have awful years last year right? Why should we expect them to improve?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. fjtorres says:

    Right field is supposed to be slightly tougher to play than left; Choo’s record is of adequate or better defense at RF and it is the product of above average speed and above average arm. No reason to expect him to be anything worse than adequate in LF.

    And that platoon split?
    Oh, yes: it is very large drop. But, ahem; the drop is from a ridiculous OBP of .411. The man has a career .340 obp against lefties. Last year, at .347, was in line with that. That is hardly worthless.

    Main question is really: how else was Texas going to spend that money that would make the team better?
    Would adding Tanaka to the Texas rotation improve the team more than slotting Choo at LF?
    Would Tanaka even want to go to Texas for $110M over 7 years?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hank says:

      Choo has a career -2.5UZR/150 in right field (~5000innings). DRS has him as basically average at 2 runs (that’s a career total not per 150)

      He was already tailing off in RF the year before his CF adventures – maybe that was injury or a down year, but I’m not sure Choo is as good in RF as people think he is.

      If he does move over to LF, that may help him a bit (he’ll be compared to lesser players), but it may also offset one of his better attributes which is his arm.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ian R. says:

      Choo still gets on base at a decent clip against lefties, but his contact skills and power disappear completely. His full slash line is .243/.340/.341.

      You’re right, that’s not worthless, but it’s not especially valuable either.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • isavage30 says:

      No reason to expect him to be any worse than adequate? Fangraphs has Choo creating the second most negative defensive value in MLB in 2012 when he last played right field. Over the past two years, if you sort by worst UZR/150, you have 1.) Rickie Weeks, and then you have 2.) Choo in CF 3.) Choo in RF.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Helladecimal says:

    AL West shaping up to be a powerful division

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. DrBGiantsfan says:

    OK, so the big 3 OF FA’s are now all signed:

    Hunter Pence 5 years/$90 M. Average 3.5 WAR over the last 7 seasons, 5.4 in 2013.

    Jacoby Ellsbury 7 years/$140 M. Average 3.8 WAR over the last 6 seasons, 5.8 in 2013(9.1 in one season).

    Shin-Soo Choo 7 years/$130 M. Average 3.8 WAR over last 6 seasons, 5.2 in 2013.

    Which team got the best deal?

    Giants……….

    Yankees……….

    Rangers………..

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • baycommuter says:

      Giants, for 2019 and 2020. Till then, could be any of them.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TheGrandslamwich says:

      Lets see, Ellsbury is the one with the huge upside. Choo’s ability to take a walk is considered a skill that ages well. Pence is a free swinger who will suffer if he loses even a tiny bit of bat speed.

      I’m not saying any of the contracts is better than the other, but that all 3 seem to be in line with what you would expect a good outfielder to get.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Posted under the wrong reply, but Hunter Pence never hit free agency.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        The Giants will happily accept the first-round compensation pick from themselves, unlike the Yankees and Rangers. This might be the tiebreaker in favor of Pence’s contract.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BJsworld says:

      Can we answer none of the above?

      – Pence has the lowest risk but the lowest upside.
      – Choo is right in the middle on both.
      – Ellsbury has the highest risk and highest upside.

      All depends on what your team needs and how risk averse they are. If you are asking about who got the best player – my money would be on Ellsbury outperforming Pence and Choo for the next 3 years. In the long run, Pence might have the best contract given that it’s only 5 years.

      In all reality, I think each team significantly overpaid once we look back and do a WAR/$ evaluation.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • fjtorres says:

        Everybody has overpaid this offseason. In contract length.
        Bartolo Colon got two years.
        Phil Hughes got three years.
        Ellsbury got seven years.
        Cano got ten years.

        Essentially, the teams are overpaying in years rather than in AAV. Apparently they expect big salary inflation over the next few years that will make eating the last year or two “palatable”. :)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RC says:

        I disagree that Choo is in the middle.

        Choo has the highest risk by far. If Ellsbury doesn’t hit, hes still a +5 to +10 CF, and a useful player. Choo is already one of the worst defensive players in baseball. If his bat declines at all, you have a player who will put up negative WAR.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tim says:

      The other 27 teams.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Robbie G. says:

      Looks like Sabean correctly anticipated significant inflation in player salaries, after all. Although that Pence contract still looks ridiculous to me.

      Incredible that all it cost Tampa to get a bunch of cost-controlled years of Wil Myers was a #2 starter. Meanwhile, look at what these veteran free agent OFs are getting paid. Extremely high percentage chance that Myers generates more WAR over the next four years than either Choo, Ellsbury, or Pence, IMO.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Well… Hunter Pence didn’t hit Free Agency

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  21. GilaMonster says:

    I disagree. I think the rotation is still a concern. Yu Darvish is amazing. Derek Holland is very very good. But after that?….yeah. Harrison is injured and not particularly good. Martin Perez is young, but disappointing and maybe a #4. Ogando can’t stay healthy and should probably stay in the bullpen. And Tepesch is still Tepesch. They have no real upper tier pitching prospects and are probably joining everyone else by putting their eggs in the Tanaka basket.

    Andrus
    Martin
    Beltre
    Fielder
    Rios
    Profar
    Choice
    Soto

    That looks solid to me. You need a fill a DH spot, so wait for the price on Cruz or Morales to drop. Or get Beltan for A LOT less and use them until Fielder needs to make the move to DH.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. studstats_13 says:

    choo is going to not hold up to the 7 years he cant hit lefties and is on the wrong side of 30 and got almost as much money as ellsibury what is happening the fa market?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • GilaMonster says:

      Yes, but he is essentially hits like Mike Trout vs. Righties and walks a lot.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fjtorres says:

      What’s happening is $25 million extra national TV money. What’s happening is big cable deals. What’s happening is teams (not based in Anaheim) are signing their young studs to long term deals and buying away early FA years. So the FA are older and there are less premium FA to bid on.
      Plus the added wildcard makes contenders out of pretenders.

      More money chasing fewer worthy players means more money for everybody.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. eaasy says:

    Remember to take into account that LF in Arlington requires better reads and quicker routes than RF (it’s a speed field).
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Choo in RF and Rios in LF for that set of reasons.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Juan says:

    Here is the problem, guys. The Rangers have a great farm system, but
    most of the prospects close to being major league ready are pitchers.
    Their position prospects are somewhat farther down the line. Being
    still in the window to contend for a WS title, they must consider the
    free agent market. Choo just happens to be one of the better players
    the market has to offer. I have a feeling the Rangers acquired him
    for his terrific OBP. There are not that many lead-off batters with
    an OBP of over .400. That means that he’s getting on base close to
    half of his at bats. Now if he had the speed of Kenny Lofton (as well
    as Loften’s OBP), the Rangers would have quite a player. In the past,
    the Rangers had sluggers, but you must remember,they were not very
    successfull until Kinsler (the table setter) showed up. They’re
    simply trying to stick to the same formula. Afterall, there has not
    been many Ricky Hendersons since the original one.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Not naive says:

    It is cute that you guys think as more and more teams sign billion dollar local TV deals you think a win bought on the open market is still worth 5 million and will continue to be 5 years from now.
    While many GMs make mistakes, including Daniels, the fact that you think he hasn’t evaluated “How Choo hits lefties” properly is once again cute… they have WAY more information then any of you do.
    Two of the most revered GMs this off season made deals you wouldn’t expect money wise. Usually they know what they are doing, doesn’t mean its always right, but these guys aren’t stupid.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Dave says:

    I completely agree with the last commenter. While these deals may look like overpays during this free agency period, I would really only call deals overpays if a team pays more for a player than the market price for that player. The market price is usually what other teams are willing to pay for a player. Choo got $10million less than what the Yankees were willing to pay, so I don’t see how the Rangers overpaid for him. Maybe the Yanks and Rangers overvalued him, but that isn’t the same thing has overpaid. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I would say Cano got overpaid, because the only other offer he got was for considerably less. However, I do believe Cano was undervalued, because he has been worth more then $24million a year the last few years. Even if a player is undervalued, that doesn’t mean that a team can’t overpay for him by paying way more than anybody else is willing to pay for him. I would still argue that the Cano deal is a relatively good or reasonable deal, but that doesn’t mean I think the Mariners should not have tried to pay less for him since basically they were the only ones competing for him it seemed.

    Ohh yeah, lastly, Choo and Elsbury did not get the same contract essentially. Somebody earlier commented that Ellsbury got $140million for 7 years, it was actually $153million for 7 years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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