COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees are approaching this offseason with almost the same level of desperation they did in 2008, which is the last time the Yankees went into the winter off a barren October.
One target the Yankees have been reported to have taken a long look at is free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and he would be a great fit in Yankee Stadium in a number of ways, not the least of which being that short porch in right field when he faces right-handed pitching.
The switch-hitting Choo was an on-base machine for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013, with a .285/.423/.462 slash line. That .423 on-base percentage was (a) the second-highest in the National League behind his Reds teammate Joey Votto, and (b) 40 points higher than the best Yankee at reaching base, Robinson Cano.
It's also almost 90 points better than leadoff hitter Brett Gardner managed (.344).
Choo batted in the leadoff spot for the Reds last year, popping 21 home runs and 34 doubles while scoring 107 runs and driving in 54. He also stole 20 bases.
For those who worry that a move to the American League could damage Shoo's productivity, bear in mind he was a regular for the Cleveland Indians for four seasons prior to being traded to the Reds last winter and produced a slash line of .289/.382/.458 and hit 66 home runs.
He would add pop to the order and be a guy who could get on base, as well. And after an adventurous season in center field in Cincinnati, he could slide over to left field, where he would be more comfortable, or the Yankees could put the younger Shoo in right field, where he primarily played while with Cleveland, and move Ichiro Suzuki back to left.
Boras is expected to seek more than $100 million for Choo, which might seem ridiculous on the face of it, but in a market with a lot of money to spend and a limited number of potential impact players, it's a seller's market and Choo is selling.
But Choo could also be a hit with New York's large Korean community and that could be a win-win for both the Yankees and for Choo, who is an enormously popular figure in his native South Korea. There's something of a blueprint there; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu helped his new team land lots of lucrative sponsorship deals with Korean companies and given that the Yankees conveniently have their own television network, Choo could lead to similar marketing deals.
The primary concern, of course, is whether or not Choo could help the Yankees get back to the postseason and given his combination of power, speed and ability to get on base, that answer would appear to be an emphatic "yes."
Phil Watson is a freelance commentator and journalist who covers the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets and New York Giants for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also editor of Golden Gate Sports and holds an editorial position at HoopsHabit.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- New York Yankees
- Cincinnati Reds