Shin-Soo Choo is the latest name to fall from the Mariners’ lips -- or, in this case, from the lips of those who are connected to the club. As Scott reported earlier today, a tweet from Ken Rosenthal connected the 31-year-old outfielder to the M’s, along with aforementioned Jacoby Ellsbury and vacancies for a starting pitcher and right-handed bat.
Choo would be a valuable addition to a team stretched thin in the outfield, and his experience in center field would be a relief from Dustin Ackley’s ill-fated attempts. In 2013, Choo posted a 5.2 fWAR, jumping nearly three full wins over his performance in 2012 and landing fourth-highest among outfielders in the American League. His Steamer projection is set at 3.1 fWAR for 2014, more than double the combined value of Seattle outfielders in 2013 -- and, were they to stick with the same hapless bunch in 2014, more than their combined projected value next season as well.
Although Choo isn’t the right-handed bat the M’s are seeking, he provides plenty of upside at the plate. He carried a slash line of .285/.423/.462 in 712 PA, accentuated by 21 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 31 attempts. By comparison, Raul Ibanez led the Mariners with 29 home runs in 2013, and Michael Saunders led with 13 stolen bases in 18 attempts. Neither Ibanez nor Saunders is projected to return by the Lookout Landing crew, though any official moves have yet to be announced by the club.
As expected, the M’s aren’t Choo's only suitors. Today, the New York Mets reached out to Scott Boras to express their interest in the outfielder. The New York Post’s Mike Puma says the two haven’t discussed prices, but later amended that Boras may be seeking a figure in the $90M range. That’s a far cry from the $14.1M qualifying offer the Cincinnati Reds have made to Choo, who has until Monday, November 11 to accept or reject the one-year deal.
Earlier this month, Lookout Landing explored options for the Mariners’ offseason shopping list. Among the potential outfielders were Detroit’s Austin Jackson, Anaheim's Peter Bourjos, and free agents Kelly Johnson and Nate McLouth. If Boras gets the figure he’s after and the M’s bite, $90M is a big chunk of the spending money the Mariners have to work with, especially when they have two more outfielders, a starting pitcher, and a right-handed bat to acquire.
Gut feeling: I doubt the Mariners are willing to put all of their eggs in this basket. Choo would be an asset in the lineup, but with Boras as his agent, it's unlikely that Seattle will snag him with anything resembling an affordable offer. It might behoove the M's to pursue a deal like the one floated in the offseason plan instead. I'd rather part with Nick Franklin, Michael Saunders, and Tom Wilhelmsen in exchange for Detroit's Austin Jackson and Rick Porcello -- unloading some declining talent and a decent middle infielder to fill gaps in both the outfield and the starting rotation, while giving the Mariners some flexibility to add other pieces.
The offseason is still fresh, however, and there’s no telling what Jack Zduriencik has up his sleeve just yet. Until then, nothing’s a sure bet.
More from Lookout Landing:
- The first words of Skippers past
- Rosenthal: Mariners want one of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, as well as a starting pitcher and RH bat
- Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz
- Baseball Prospectus reveals new Mariners top 10 prospect list
- McClendon in as M's skipper: Here's what everyone's saying