Free Agent Pass or Play: Shin-Soo Choo – Phillies Nation

Free Agent Pass or Play: Shin-Soo Choo

Choo will be on everyone’s radar this free agency.

Each day until free agency begins, we at Phillies Nation will take a look at a player who will become a free agent five days from the conclusion of the World Series. We will explore potential performance, fit, cost, and feasibility. We continue today with left-handed outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. And a reminder: you can check out all the “Pass or Play” posts by clicking on the category hyperlink.


Choo became a regular with Cleveland in 2008 after arriving in a trade for first baseman Ben Broussard. The deal would be one of the best in Cleveland’s history and likely the worst in Mariners history – Choo was worth 18 wins from 2006 through 2012 while Broussard has not played in the Majors since 2008 and only played a season and a half with the Mariners.

Choo was traded to Cincinnati for the 2013 season and responded with 21 homers, 20 steals, and a .423 OBP, good for second in the National League. Choo has been the eighth most valuable outfielder in Major League Baseball since 2008, trailing only Manny Ramirez and Mike Trout in on-base percentage in that time frame and ranks 11th among Major League outfielders in On-Base+Slugging in that same time frame. Choo has quietly been among the most productive outfielders in the Majors in the last six seasons but the secret is out among MLB GMs, as we will see in our salary projections.


Choo hits left-handed and, if signed, would make at least seven of the Phillies eight regulars lefties. Choo does almost all of his damage against righties, hitting .309/.411/.521 over his career. Where Choo struggles immensely is against lefties, losing nearly 70 points in platoon splits in batting average and on-base percentage and about 180 points in slugging. Of Choo’s 712 2013 PA, 221 were against lefties (31%) and his splits against lefties are an upgrade over Domonic Brown (.235/.291/.379).

Simply put, Choo is a very, very good baseball player and almost MLB team could find a way to fit him on a Major League roster. Signing Choo could allow, or perhaps force, the Phillies to do many other interesting things. Choo is 31 years old and a long term deal may not be in the Phillies best interest.


According to the awesome FanGraphs crowd-sourcing project, Choo is likely in line for somewhere between $15-18 million per year for four to five years. Choo should get between the second and fourth highest-AAV contract this offseason and without making other moves, the cost likely is prohibitive for the Phillies barring a gigantic television agreement.


Quite frankly, it probably very unlikely the Phillies will be able to make a play for Choo. Sadly, even with such drastic platoon splits, he would be an upgrade over every Phillies outfielder offensively. Some will mention that Choo will receive a ~$14 million qualifying offer but he will decline to go for a multi-year deal. The Phillies have a protected first-rounder in the 2014 Draft so they would not lose their pick should they sign someone who has declined a qualifying offer.

Verdict: Play, But…

You probably can, and should, only window shop here unless the Phillies win the Powerball Jackpot. While Choo has been relatively healthy, adding Choo would be adding a 31-year old for five or more years. Choo is an excellent player – call for a price check and move on after sticker shock.



  1. Bart Shart

    October 28, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Pass– his cost is too high considering his projected contract terms and financial outlay. Plus he is a left handed hitter who does not hit lefties well. We already have enough lefties.

    • hk

      October 28, 2013 at 10:46 am

      The Phillies produced a .694 OPS vs. RHP’s last year, ranking them 11th in the NL. Since ~70% of the plate appearances in a given season are against RHP’s, I hope the front office makes it a priority to improve vs. RHP’s. That said, I would only want them to sign Choo if it was for 3 years (his age 31 to 33 seasons), which seems very unlikely considering the season that he just had.

  2. Dave P

    October 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Play – he gets on base!

    Brown-Revere-Choo in outfield would be pretty solid.

    • wbramh

      October 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Except for the Brown-Revere part in the outfield, I agree.
      Unless Revere catches for Brown and Brown throws for Revere.
      Then you have an average outfielder between them.

      I’d feel better about Revere’s deficits in the outfield if he drove in runs with his bat.
      And I keep hoping for Brown to become an average fielder but his ability to drive in 90 RBIs is enough to overcome his fielding issues.

      Why can’t any of these guys learn to get in front of the ball?
      It’s Outfield 101.

  3. bacardipr

    October 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    He’ll probably be to rich for the Phillies unless somehow they unload someone. I dont see that happening. I think if they really wanted to they could make a play. Although i would prefer to have another RH bat in the line up.

  4. Hogey's Role

    October 28, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’m a pass, I’ve been a pass on this guy… He’s a very good ball player I won’t dispute that but he’s on the wrong side of thirty and signing him would only handcuff us further in the future… I am kinda leaning towards letting our current deals run down, trading some guys for valuable prospects and I would work really hard to do as best as we could in the draft and start rebuilding this team…. I would still play on some free agents and try to possibly make a run this year but I wouldn’t go more than two or three years for somebody right now

  5. Lefty

    October 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I would ideally love to go young, but the outfielders in our farm system are apparently not presently ready for that, and the FO seems to want to stay competitive.

    Based on that- my opinion is-

    Play, play, play! Play right away as soon as rules allow. Don’t think about it, don’t worry over lefty righty, and don’t mess around with a low ball offer- just go hard after this guy. He has a better lifetime OBP than any current Phillie, or for that matter, any Phillies player I can remember for a long time. (could be wrong there, little help someone?)

    You can trade the other left handed batter (Revere) at a later time, maybe the Reds will have interest.

    Then, since it does not appear we’re going young in the outfield, they might as well go get Carlos Beltran too- and you have your outfield of Brown, Choo and Beltran set with Howard Utley, Rollins and either Asche or Franco. I’m not sure what to do about Ruiz or the catcher position, maybe Rupp is ready.

    • Hogey's Role

      October 28, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      I would go with Ruiz and rupp to back him up…. There aren’t many interesting options available at catcher…
      If we could trade revere and ruf for cespedes I might be interested in choo or I would just go along with Cesar Hernandez in center and brown and cespedes for the other two spots… I’d be happy with that

      • Lefty

        October 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm

        Just curious- What makes people think Cespedes is so available? The A’s with their reputation of being more than a little tight fisted gave this guy a pretty big 4 year deal. And he came in and played very well so, I just don’t get why they would consider unloading him with so much invested and two years left.

        But I definitely would be big time interested in him.

      • Hogey's Role

        October 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        Because billy beane unlike Ruben amaro doesn’t get emotionally invested in players and if he could trade one player for a starting cf, which they may need, a starting 1b or dh, where they also have a need, and maybe a prospect as well, I feel like he may pull the trigger on a deal like that just my opinion I guess

      • Lefty

        October 29, 2013 at 6:05 am

        And just my opinion as well, but I just think of Cespedes as a guy they build around, not jettison. We’ll see I guess.

        Back to the subject, what do you think of my way too expensive outfield?

        Brown, Choo, Beltran- we can dream right?

  6. bacardipr

    October 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    No way do you make Hernandez a starting CF at this point. He’s had maybe a dozen and a half games under his belt. Defensively it could be disastrous and we havent seen much of him overall. I do like what he has shown so far but not enough to hand over a starting job just yet.

    • Hogey's Role

      October 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      I think it’s worth a shot, and if we got cespedes he’s a natural center fielder so he could be a fall back option, but I would rather try Hernandez for a year at least before deciding he isn’t worthy

  7. bacardipr

    October 29, 2013 at 2:46 am

    I think Hernandez has potential to be a good player. Since he hasnt had much time there I would rather see what he can do for a year as a backup. This way he gets some time there. Its lack of experience in the OF that im concerned about at this juncture. For a #2 or 3 OF yes i can see that risk.

  8. Bob D

    October 29, 2013 at 3:18 am

    If Choo is signed then I foresee Revere traded or a platoon with Ruf in LF. Revere is not a great defender as he makes some simple misplays. He does make up for it as he gets to some hits that he should not be able to. Revere’s arm is likely one of the weakest in all of baseball. So in essence, Revere is ok in the field. But Hernandez to me seems very similar but with a tad more power.

    For Choo, if they can sign him then do so. Preferably for no more than 4yrs.

    Even if they have Brown, Ruf, Choo, Revere, and Hernandez – they should go after another right handed OF bat. If Revere is seen as the 4th OF and Ruf a spare OF or platoon at 1st then so be it. The bench would look very good with those guys there or with Howard and others on bench when they don’t start.

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