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Shin-Soo Choo’s seven-year, $130 million contract with Rangers changes complexion of AL West

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(USA Today)

According to Yahoo's Jeff Passan, one of the biggest pieces of baseball's offseason puzzle finally found a home on Saturday after Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

Passan also reported earlier this week that Choo previously turned down a seven-year, $140 million contract offer from the New York Yankees prior to them signing Carlos Beltran. Obviously his gamble didn't pay off with more money guaranteed or more security in terms of years, but the price didn't come down as far as many suspected it could. Also, there's no state income tax in Texas, so he'll come out ahead on that front.

According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Rangers commitment to Choo contract will likely take them out of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes should the Rakuten Golden Eagles elect to post him this winter. That would seemingly open the door for the Yankees to become the clear favorites for Tanaka. The signing also signifies the end of Nelson Cruz's time in a Rangers uniform as they'll have no room left in the lineup or budget to accommodate him.

Signing Choo doesn't only change the Rangers offseason outlook, it also changes the complexion of a much improved AL West. In particular, the Seattle Mariners had emerged as legitimate contenders following the signings of Robinson Cano and Corey Hart and their trade for Logan Morrison, but this certainly throws a little water on their fire.

It's a return punch by a Texas team that had already added Prince Fielder to their lineup in a November trade that saw Ian Kinsler go to the Detroit Tigers. They simply aren't going away anytime soon. With the Mariners seemingly focused on winning over the next 2-3 seasons, perhaps Choo's signing will spark a response such as trading for David Price, signing Nelson Cruz or perhaps another unexpected blockbuster move.

Time will tell how the Mariners react and how the rest of the baseball world reacts to Choo's signing, but there's no doubt the free agent and trade markets open up considerably with him off the board. The action may not truly pick up again until after the holidays, but once it does it should get very interesting.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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