The Shin-Soo Choo saga has finally come to a close, and he's chosen the Texas Rangers on a seven-year deal. Wonderful! This comes right on the heels of C.J. Nitowski passing along a rumor that Choo had agreed for 7 years, $140 mill with the Yankees, but Scott Boras demanded $143 million - $1 million more that Carl Crawford got when he signed with Boston - and this angered the Yankees, moving on to sign Carlos Beltran instead.
Choo moves into the AL West once again, and it's bad news for the Mariners. Even if you think the money is crazy for Choo (still waiting on the terms, but it's expected to be around $130 million, lower than what Boras previously rejected), the Rangers just got a lot better for the next three or four years, the same pivotal years that the Mariners employ Robinson Cano while he's still young enough to be a superstar. As the Mariners take one step forward to competing with Cano, the Rangers take one and a half with Prince Fielder and now Choo. It's going to be a brutal division, and the Mariners simply haven't done enough to rise among the ranks of Texas and Oakland, who are making decisive win-now type moves.
After the Cano signing, Choo never made a lot of sense for Seattle given their lefty-heavy lineup, but he was still coveted by many as the best available bat left on the market, and the Mariners need to get another big piece to legitimately get a table at the playoff contender ball. It's not necessarily a disappointment to see him sign somewhere else given the money, but it is tough to see him return to the AL West. In years past, superstars signing in the division didn't seem to mean much, because the Mariners were still rebuilding - Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton - nobody cared that much, because they'd be in decline and overpaid by the time the Mariners completed their rebuild. Now, the M's have attempted to accelerate that timeline, and the division is set to be as tough as ever. The Mariners are decidedly at best the third-best team in the AL West at this point, and it's not completely certain they're better than the Angels.
The scary fallout from this is now Nelson Cruz doesn't have a home, and the Mariners and Cruz appear to be an inevitable downward spiral towards bad decision-making. Cruz, as we've discussed, is a scary proposition. At 33 he's already in decline, he's coming off a PED suspension, hasn't hit well away from Texas, has a history of injuries, hasn't been worth more than 1.5 WAR in three years, and a skillset that doesn't age well. And he'll probably get $15 million a year, and it might be from Seattle. This is the kind of move that forces other organizations to retaliate, so hope that the Mariners don't panic and try to blow Cruz away to get him to come here before they lose the last "good" available free agent outfielder.
Choo and Tanaka have been holding a lot of things up, so with Rakuten's final decision coming, the remaining chips will start to fall. If you're looking for a small silver lining here, it's that Texas is likely out on Tanaka if he chooses to come. I do think the Mariners will at least attempt to react to this in one way or another - pray it's not a panic overpay for David Price or an absurd amount of money for Nelson Cruz or Ervin Santana.