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Heyman: The Astros could make a play for Shin-Soo Choo

Oct 19, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT

Shin-Soo Choo Getty Getty Images

We’re not ready to fire up the hot stove quite yet, but CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman passes along this interesting nugget on a potential surprise suitor for impending free agent Shin-Soo Choo:

The Houston Astros, whose lowest-in-baseball payroll of $25 million or thereabouts was a mere fraction of most teams, may consider making a run at star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is believed to be seeking five times that figure on a multiyear deal on the free-agent market, according to sources.

In the most obvious way, a play by the lowly Astros for Choo would be shocking. Their highest-paid player last year, Bud Norris at $3 million, was traded in midyear, and their total payroll was 70 percent lower than the average payroll to start the year. Some figured the payroll as low as $13 million by year’s end, depending on how it’s calculated.

With rumors of agent Scott Boras seeking a $100 million deal for Choo, Heyman likens a potential match to the Nationals blowing everyone out of the water when they signed Jayson Werth in December of 2010. The Astros’ only payroll commitment for next year is Jose Altuve ($1.25 million), so they could afford a big splash if they deem Choo the right fit.

It sounds like an unlikely match on the surface, but Heyman notes that Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow values on-base percentage. And because the Astros had the worst record in baseball this season, the club wouldn’t have to surrender their 2014 first-round pick in order to sign Choo. But as these things typically go, it will all come down to who is willing to fork over the most cash. The Astros would have to outbid a handful of teams — and perhaps overpay, like Werth — in order to make it happen.

  1. thekingdave - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    I don’t see why this is so “shocking” to Heyman. As Lance Berkman has said (and I agree), the payrolls been so comically low the last two seasons so Crane and his investors can get some return on their investment. I think the tanking’s done since they’ve got Carlos Rodon locked up in June’s draft and a lot of our better prospects are inching closer to the majors.

  2. sfm073 - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Jeff lunhow is a smart guy and their farm system is being built up, but what does ob% mean if you have no one to drive them in.

    • jarathen - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Exactly. You strike when the time is right, and while the Astros may have bottomed out thsi year, they’re not competitive yet and are unlikely to be in the mix in the AL West for a few years yeat.

  3. chiadam - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    OBP is vital. That way the Atros will finally have someone on base to strand.

  4. junglerat524 - Oct 19, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Why in the world would he even consider the Astros? He just got his first taste of an actual playoff race.

  5. jc4455 - Oct 19, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    They’ll win 70 in 2014 and 90 in 2015.

    • jc4455 - Oct 19, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      This is in reply to jungle. It’s strange that people think the Astros are either permanently bad or permanently low-payroll. Luhnow has been clear what the plan is, it makes sense, and it involves winning and spending a lot of money by 2015.

    • stex52 - Oct 19, 2013 at 10:40 PM

      Too many holes in the lineup right now. Too much of their talent is a A and AA. Unless they go to the well big time with free agents – which they won’t – look for 2016. 2015 is most likely a little too soon.

  6. kelshannon19 - Oct 19, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    Because the Astros, believe it or not, are close to being a very good team. Farm system is incredible with one more number 1 pick coming. Choo could be a key piece for a while.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      I agree they are. And that’s why spending this kid of cash is the quickest way to ruin all of those plans. Spend your money wisely, and save it for the upcoming super-stars you are going to want to sign to long term deals. It’s the one super smart thing the Orioles have done and Houston should follow the same path.

    • stex52 - Oct 19, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Not that close, kel. They are starting to get the prospects close. But hardly anyone on the major league team will be there when the team is good. Look for improvement next year. But no miracles.

      • kelshannon19 - Oct 19, 2013 at 10:45 PM

        When I say close, I mean 2015 with improvements next year plus young guys coming up. Full season from Cosart, Oberholtzer, a new bullpen and maybe a free agent or two. Yes I’m hoping they will be good soon, but I’m not banking on next year.

  7. johnnysoda - Oct 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    As much as I don’t like the Astros, it’s getting really pathetic to see them suck so much every year. Choo would be a big move for them, but I don’t know if they’d be willing to put up $100 million, which is like, 400% of their payroll. If they get that much money tied up in him, they couldn’t use much to get other players, meaning they’d have to count on all their draft picks living up to their promise. Bit of a gamble.

  8. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Jon Heyman. Shrill for Scott Boras since 1974. Seriously, can’t Heyman just write ONE DAMN article without Scott Boras’ fingerprints all over it?

    • raysfan1 - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Shrill shill…and when it comes to free agents, no he cannot keep himself from blatantly being Boras’ mouthpiece.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Oct 19, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      Haha, had an extra letter in there. Although, it kid of works either way.

  9. provguard - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    With the Astros farm system as stocked as it is by a lot of trades and being a bottom feeder, they should be just about ripe to break out…

  10. bigtrav425 - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Choo is. Or worth that but I’m no Astros fan so by all means make a pointless signing with a bad contract

  11. cabrera24 - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Na I don’t buy it . Astros aren’t going be good in another 5-6 years , and if they are any good by next year or so I don’t see them going far . Oakland own the west for the next few years . Sorry Houston fans .

  12. whodeybacker - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Might make sense. Choo is Korean and Houston has a huge Korean population. Someone is crunching #s on how it would help ticket sales. Has to justify 15 million.. Its has worked for the Rockets (Ming and Lin)

  13. coloradogolfcoupons - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    If Choo signs it will be like Arod signing withTexas when they were bad…and finished last all 3 years he was with the Rangers, and then claimed he didn’t want to play with 24 kids. Choo will get an offer with a good team and this Astro speculation is pure BS. Not a lick of common sense or truth in it. Boras and his PR machine at work

    • yahmule - Oct 19, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      Or maybe it will be like when Randy Johnson signed with the 1998 Diamondbacks who lost 97 games, then won 100 games with him in 1999.

    • Reflex - Oct 19, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Or it could go like Werth signing with the Nationals when they were bad, being there for the young farm system they were working on, and now being part of a contender for the second half of his contract.

  14. jcmeyer10 - Oct 19, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    You see Moneyball on TBS one time…

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