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Do the Reds have enough money to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo?

Sep 20, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

billy hamilton shin-soo choo getty Getty Images

When the Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians this offseason they knew it might only be a one-year pickup with free agency right around the corner, but general manager Walt Jocketty told C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that they’ll “do everything we can” to re-sign him.

Choo has been fantastic this season, playing center field better than most people expected and hitting .285 with 21 homers, 109 walks, and a .426 on-base percentage that ranks second among NL hitters behind only teammate Joey Votto. And at age 31 he’s in line for a huge payday as one of the best players on the open market this winter.

According to Jocketty the Reds have reached out to Choo and agent Scott Boras about a potential long-term deal, but “he’s wanted to wait or maybe Scott wants to wait until the year is over.”

If the Reds fail to re-sign Choo they have the fastest man in baseball, Billy Hamilton, waiting in the wings to replace him in center field, although for all the excitement Hamilton brings to the table as a runner he didn’t hit much at Triple-A this season and certainly won’t come anywhere close to Choo’s outstanding on-base skills. Hamilton had a .304 OBP at Triple-A.

And with the Reds’ projected 2014 payroll already over $100 million Jocketty may have his hands somewhat tied when it comes to keeping Choo.

  1. Old Gator - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    Gezundtheit.

  2. chiadam - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    The real question is: do the Reds have enough money to re-sign Choo without Brandon Phillips crying about the $70 million he is making?

    • dnc6 - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:00 PM

      The solution is simple. Agree with Phillips to rip up his contract. He can then go get what he really deserves on the FA market.

  3. jcmeyer10 - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Reds brass: “Brandon, we gave him significantly less money, what are you upset about now”?

    Phillips: “His parking space is one spot closer to the building than mine”.

  4. raysfan1 - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Boras loves bidding wars, and there are some big market teams needing outfield help. If Choo does stay with the Reds, it won’t be because they were the highest bidder.

  5. jm91rs - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    They do not have enough money, they’ve already increased the payroll something like 25% this year. Even though attendance is way up, I doubt it’s enough. The smart business decision will be to stay out of the bidding war Scott Boras will manufacture. Unless the Reds win it all (don’t see that happening) and Choo decides he’s happier here and willing to take less money there’s no way. Even if he decides to take slightly less money, where do they put Hamilton? Ludwick is already under contract for next year, Hamilton can start in Louisville but probably not wise to keep him there all year. They’d probably have to move Ludwick and eat some of that contract.

    The only caveat to this is that Bob Castellini desperately wants to win. If the Reds win or come close, the taste of victory might be enough for Castellini to make a reckless spending decision on a guy like Choo.

  6. weaselpuppy - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    Would love to see the Tigers pay that man his money, stick him in left and leadoff and drop AJax to the 2 slot and Torii to the 6 hole. Nick the Stick can wait a year, then take LF and shift Choo to RF in 2015.

    Probably means giving up on Fister staying long term though….which is OK. Smyly is a credible 4th starter.

    • biasedhomer - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Signing a big name OFer should be one of the last things on the Tigers to-do-list

      • weaselpuppy - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:45 PM

        said people opposed to Torii Hunter last offseason….

  7. junglerat524 - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Let him go. You knew going into to this season he was only here for one year & then Billy would take over. They made the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years without a legit leadoff man. Put Billy there & let it ride like you planned. Good luck to Choo & thanks.

  8. thomas844 - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    It would be hard to re-sign Choo because they are for paying their medicore, often-injured set-up man big money for the next couple of years.

    • junglerat524 - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      That’s why they have insurance ya dumbass

  9. thomas844 - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    It would be hard to re-sign Choo because they are for paying their mediocore, often-injured set-up man big money for the next couple of years.

    • jm91rs - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      you can say that again.

  10. jonrox - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    They probably can’t/shouldn’t unless they can trick someone into taking Ludwick. He is on the hook for 8.5m next year and 9m the following year (4.5m buyout) which is probably around 50-75% of the money Choo should be getting. On top of that, he’s taking up the spot Choo should be playing. While he hasn’t been an utter disaster in CF, he also rates as one of the worst, if not the worst, CF in the game. Finally, re-signing Choo blocks Billy Hamilton for the duration of Choo’s time in center.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 20, 2013 at 1:45 PM

      Why not put Hamilton in CF, Choo in LF, and Bruce in RF? Heisley has put up a 87 OPS+ in the last 201 games, with a 96 OPS+ over his career (2011 is looking to be the outlier here at 112OPS+).

      • jonrox - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:09 PM

        That’s what I meant. Ideally, Choo plays LF and Hamilton plays CF (though even this hinges on the assumption that he can become an everyday player). The problem I was trying to get at is that the Reds are already highly invested in Ryan Ludwick playing LF.

        Heisey is up for his second year of arbitration this year, and so will be getting a raise from this year’s 1.3 million. As a replacement-level player, he’s no lock to even remain on the team. If both Choo and Hamilton are on the opening day roster in 2014, the Reds will basically have a choice between Heisey and Derrick Robinson. Robinson is still in pre-arbitration (as far as I can tell) and is also younger, so is probably the presumptive favorite in that roster battle.

  11. DiscountMescan - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    As a Cubs fan, I hope not.

  12. paperlions - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Choo has played CF better than people expected? Maybe, but he’s still been 10 runs worse than the 2nd worst defensive CFer this year.

    Choo is 31 and having easily the best offensive season of his career. Basing a long-term contract on a career year at age 31 is 12 kinds of a horrible idea. He should still be a valuable player for a few years, but if you are paying 4-5 years and expecting 2013-type production every year, you’ll probably be disappointed every year.

  13. jc4455 - Sep 20, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    The clever move would be trading Aroldis Chapman. He’s headed for a big payday in arbitration, he apparently can’t start or even pitch more than 70 innings in a season, and he’s a health risk.

    • jonrox - Sep 20, 2013 at 4:03 PM

      Chapman isn’t due for arbitration until at least 2015. He’s signed next year for $3m, and has a player option for $5m in 2015.

  14. ahenobarbuso - Sep 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    I think the Texas Rangers will end up winning the bidding war, if it comes to that, and sign him next year.

    They seem to be the most in need of an outfielder, with two becoming free agents after the season ends, and almost no offensive production this year from any of their outfielders. After this years (and last years) offensive collapse they will probably overspend in desperation this off season.

  15. bengalsucker - Sep 20, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    The #1 issue here is Boras. No way he lets Choo sign early. He’s going to wait and see how big of a armored truck the Mets put in Choo’s driveway. No chance in hell the Reds are going to be able to sign him with Boras as his agent. He only looks at one thing, money signs. He doesn’t care about anything else. Doesn’t care about the team’s potential for a championship, location, anything.

    • jwbiii - Sep 20, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      Why do people keep saying this? Jered Weaver took an under market deal to stay with the Angels. Mark Teixeira took less than the highest offer to go to the Yankees. Adrian Beltre left a lot of money on the table to take a one year deal with the Red Sox and then took less than the highest offer to play for the Rangers.

      Are you just not paying attention? This not a rhetorical question.

    • chill1184 - Sep 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Omar Minaya isn’t running the Mets anymore if you haven’t noticed. If anything Alderson will play this the same way he did with Bourn. He’ll throw out an offer but won’t get into a bidding war.

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