Only One Player Given Qualifying Offer Interests Mets, Who Should Be Wary Of Shin-Soo Choo

Early speculation of whom the New York Mets might consider in the free-agent market could turn out to be pricey as 13 free agents received qualifying offers from their respective teams. Not surprisingly, no Met free agent was given a qualifying offer, but three Yankees – Robinson CanoHiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson – were given the $14.1 million offer.

CHOO: Mets Should Be Cautious.

CHOO: Mets Should Be Cautious.

That figure was derived at averaging the top 125 salaries from 2013, and each player offered that amount regardless of his salary last season.

The list includes Carlos Beltran, Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Granderson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kuroda, Brian McCann, Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli and Ervin Santana.

Numerous media outlets at one time had linked Beltran, Choo, Cruz, Drew, Ellsbury, Granderson and Napoli to the Mets, but only in speculative terms.

The players have until 5 p.m., next Monday to accept the qualifying offer, and if they do will have agreed to a one-year, $14.1 million contract. If the player rejects the offer his former team will be awarded either a first or second-round draft pick as compensation.

The Mets’ first-round pick – tenth overall in the draft – is protected and determined on their 2013 record of 74-88, but general manager Sandy Alderson said losing a second-round pick would not be a deterrent.

You’ll recall the compensation issue is why the Mets did not go after outfielder Michael Bourn last season. Bourn eventually signed with Cleveland and the Mets eventually settled on minor leaguer Juan Lagares in center fielder.

Of the players on the list, the Mets appear to be the most serious about the 31-year-old Choo, but reportedly won’t go beyond four years. The Mets’ needs at shortstop and outfield had them thinking about Drew and Ellsbury, but $14.1 million would be too high for Drew, but palatable for Ellsbury.

However, in many cases with qualifying offers, the team signing them does so as a mechanism to buy negotiating time to work out a multi-year deal.

The Mets are expected to swim in the middle depths of the free-agent pool, which is what Boston did last year in building its championship team with the signings of Drew, Napoli and Shane Victorino.

Choo fits into that category, but he’s not one to build around. He has averaged 20 homers and 81 RBI during his nine-year career with Seattle, Cleveland and Cincinnati. However, those are hitters parks and he was surrounded by better line-ups than what he’d have with the Mets in Citi Field.

Choo hit .285 last year – 24 points below his career-high of .309 in 2009, but drew 112 walks in compiling a .423 on-base percentage, his most important statistic.

If signed, Choo would slot into center leading to a competition in right between Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Red flags for Choo are 133 strikeouts and only 54 RBI for his 21 homers (conceding he hit at the top of the order). He averages 146 strikeouts a season during his career, something the Mets have had far too much of those. Frankly, his production doesn’t warrant the strikeouts.

Choo made $7.3 million last year from the Reds, and during his career earned a total of $17.5 million, so the qualifying offer represents a huge raise for him. However, the market doesn’t work where the Mets can make a take-it-or-leave it offer. Especially, with his agent being Scott Boras, known to not leave money on the table. It is highly likely the qualifying offer will be rejected and Choo will enter the market.

Considering he has played in 150 games only four times during his career, his career .288 average doesn’t seem like much to warrant giving four years. If I am giving four years on a player with a qualifying offer, I’d overpay for Ellsbury and know I would be getting a star. I would also rather bring back Beltran for a couple of seasons.

The most I’d give Choo is two years for $28.2 million (two years of the qualifying offer) plus an option. Anything more would be excessive considering the Mets’ other needs.


6 thoughts on “Only One Player Given Qualifying Offer Interests Mets, Who Should Be Wary Of Shin-Soo Choo

  1. quote: If signed, Choo would slot into center leading to a competition in right between Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

    That is most likely not correct…Choo has spent a grand total of 160 starts in Center, with 150 of those being last year because the Reds already had Jay Bruce anchored in RF…Choo is realistically a RFer that played out of position because that was what the Reds needed him to play (and with that Little League ballpark in Cincinatti, they could afford to lose a little defensively in Center)…If Choo were to join either Lagares or den Dekker in the Citi Field OF, he would probably be the RFer…

  2. I think you missed two things about Choo:
    1. He would play LF or RF, which is what he played in Cleveland. He played CF for the Reds out of necessity as they needed a CF.
    2. Neither Seattle nor Cleveland are considered “hitter’s parks”, so to say his production is inflated due to that fact is an overstatement. If anything, the “hitter’s park” dilemma would apply to Ellsbury and Granderson more so than it does to Choo.

    Also, over 2009-2013 Choo has a combined bWAR of 22. By comparison, David Wright has a combined bWAR over that same period of 21.5. They are both the same age and the fact that Choo is Korean and Mets play a half hour away from the largest Korean neighborhood in the New York area will help sell tickets and bring in revenue, something the team desperately needs.

    • 1. Agree with your comments on position. Lagares’s bat losses a ton of value if he is placed in RF. He (JL) would only be moved if the Mets signed Ellsbury or another premier CF.

      2. Park factors in 2011-2013 indicate that Greater American is a hitter friendly park (top 3 in HR per Game, and middle of the pack in RSPG). Progressive is more hitter neutral (middle of the pack). Choo didn’t spend much time with Seattle- so I would say that Safeco is kind of irrelevant?

      3. I see bWAR for those years being 20.6 (Wright) vs. 20.8 (Choo). Weird sample size to exclude wright’s best season – yet grab two injury season’s for him (and one for Choo) – 2008-2013 is a much more representative time period. Better yet – look at what they did over the course of their careers:
      Wright: per 650PA – 5.6WAR, Career OPS+ – 137
      Choo: per 650PA – 5.0WAR, Career OPS+ – 134

      I guess what I am saying is: Don’t say he is better than Wright (blasphemy!), but he is better than every other position player on the Mets. He has shown obvious weaknesses and will ask for tons of $$ – but a lot better than what we have.

      Agree with points about appealing to the Flushing masses though.

      • “Don’t say he is better than Wright (blasphemy!), but he is better than every other position player on the Mets.”

        Agreed. That was not what I was trying to say. I chose 2009-2013 because those are the years Choo became a regular everyday player. Wright’s 2005-2008 seasons prove he is the superior player. My point was a lot of fans think of Choo as a mediocre player but don’t realize the point you made, that he’s better than every other position player currently on the Mets.

        Your WAR numbers are also correct. Not sure where I fat-fingered it. Should have used Microsoft Excel instead of my cell phone’s calculator, I guess. :-)

  3. From everything I have read about Choo it seems as if he would be a good signing.

    At the end of the day we will have to overpay. We suck. We do not have major league average players to fill out a lineup card. If we have to go 4 years with this guy so be it. You have to start somewhere.

    In the end we need to get a major league OF which we do not have. None of the players on this team are starters anywhere else. I like Legares but frankly he can’t hit. Neither can anyone else we have on the team. The fact that Choo hit 285 last year is a major upgrade over anything else we have. As others have noted we only have 2 major league hitters on the team. They are named David and Daniel. Adding a third would be a start.

    • Imagine if we signed Choo and Byrd.

      We could have Legares in CF and good fielding good hitting guys on either side. This would make Young the guy off the bench with perhaps Den Dekker. This would double the hitters you have in your lineup and provide a solid defense for your pitchers. Then you would have to find a ss , 1B and backup catcher.

      After this some journeyman pitcher and perhaps a pen arm.