Extension Candidate: Shin-Soo Choo

When Chris Antonetti officially becomes the Indians GM this offseason, he'll probably consider extending Shin-Soo Choo. It would mean working with agent Scott Boras on a multi-year deal and while that may sound intimidating, there's precedent for this kind of contract. Early in 2009, Prince Fielder, another Boras client, signed a two-year deal that bought out a pair of his arbitration seasons.

Choo will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and Boras has hinted that he'd be open to a multi-year deal. Boras clients, Fielder included, aren't generally easy to sign long-term, so the Indians may have trouble locking Choo up beyond his three arbitration seasons. Here's a look ahead to a potential three-year deal between the Indians and their right fielder.

Let's start by estimating what Choo would make if the Indians don't extend him. Three other outfielders (none of them super twos) match up reasonably well with Choo if you compare his stats to what they had accomplished heading into their first arbitration seasons. B.J. Upton ($3MM), Josh Willingham ($2.95MM) and Ryan Ludwick ($3.7MM) all signed deals worth $3MM or so for their first arbitration seasons. 

You could make the case, as Boras may, that Choo has accomplished more than any of those three players at comparable stages in their careers. When you compare Choo to the other three players in home runs, RBI, runs, batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and steals, it becomes apparent that the Indians outfielder has a strong case to earn over $3MM next year. Upton beats Choo in steals and runs scored, but loses in every other category; Willingham loses to Choo in every category but home runs and Ludwick loses in every category but home runs and slugging percentage.

Choo's defense is also strong; he has a 7.7 UZR this season and leads all MLB outfielders in assists with 13. He was among the top ten MLB outfielders in assists last year and consistently gets to more balls than most AL right fielders. He doesn't head into arbitration with quite the same platform year that Ludwick did, but Choo will be coming off a second consecutive 20 homer, 20 steal season. A $3.5MM payday in 2011 seems within reach.

If Choo is making $3-4MM next year and is set to receive raises in 2012 and 2013, the Indians would likely have to be prepared to spend considerably to sign Choo for the next three seasons. Antonetti could go year to year, especially if it looks like Choo will have to serve in the South Korean military, but if the Indians do sign their right fielder for the next three years, it probably won't be for less than $20MM.

Nick Markakis, who signed a long-term extension with the Orioles after the 2008 season, then had remarkably similar numbers to the ones Choo has now. Markakis, who also has a strong throwing arm and plays right field, edges Choo in average, runs and homers, but Choo has more RBI and steals and better on base and slugging averages. Markakis' extension could be a model for Cleveland and he will earn $20MM for his three arbitration seasons.


36 Responses to Extension Candidate: Shin-Soo Choo Leave a Reply

  1. wests 5 years ago

    What about Choo’s Korean military obligations? Has he gotten out of that situation yet?

    • Not yet~ the Asian game is in late this yr in China. n Only Gold medal in there can take him out of military obligation~ with 4 weeks training~

      Japanese n Taiwanese r rivals but japanese team send amateur players n taiwanese team will play without their best pitchers~ so Korean team is the strongest one~

      n Choo will play for the team~ :)

    • Not yet~ the Asian game is in late this yr in China. n Only Gold medal in there can take him out of military obligation~ with 4 weeks training~

      Japanese n Taiwanese r rivals but japanese team send amateur players n taiwanese team will play without their best pitchers~ so Korean team is the strongest one~

      n Choo will play for the team~ :)

      • I couldn’t really understand what your saying. We’re you trying to write in English, or some other strange language?

        • guest_54 5 years ago

          Let’s see how you write in Korean . . . insulting his English is neither productive nor intelligent on your part. Grow up! (Also, if you’re going to insult his English, at least make sure yours is correct . . . it’s “you’re saying” not “your saying”).

          And it’s “Were you trying” instead of “We’re you trying”

          • chetkincaid 5 years ago

            Haha enjoy your pwnership of Kevin Chambers…

        • guest_54 5 years ago

          Let’s see how you write in Korean . . . insulting his English is neither productive nor intelligent on your part. Grow up! (Also, if you’re going to insult his English, at least make sure yours is correct . . . it’s “you’re saying” not “your saying”).

          And it’s “Were you trying” instead of “We’re you trying”

    • I swear this comes up in every Choo post. They’ve basically said there’s no way Choo will go back, even if he has to give up his citizenship to Korea, but basically all the citizens would b pissed at the gov’t for that so they wont let it get that far.

    • I swear this comes up in every Choo post. They’ve basically said there’s no way Choo will go back, even if he has to give up his citizenship to Korea, but basically all the citizens would b pissed at the gov’t for that so they wont let it get that far.

  2. Hermie13 5 years ago

    Choo is NOT GOING BACK TO KOREA. 100% lock that he is not. You don’t hire Boras as an agent if you even think you may go back to Korea. He LIVES in Arizona in the winter.

    I’ve said this elsewhere…

    But give him a 5 year/$45.5M exention with a mutual option for the 6th year that could turn it into a 6yr/$57M deal.

    That would top the deal that Justin Upton got on a yearly average (1 less year) who has been somewhat comparable (more power, worse OBP/OPS). Upton is younger too by a lot.

    Falls short of the 6yr/$66.1M deal Markakis got…..so may have to up it with Boras but feel that’s more than a fair starting point.

    Give him $5M in 2011 (more than he’s likely to get in arby), $7M in 2012 (more than he’s likely to get in his 2nd year of arby), $9M in 2013 (near what he’d get), $11.5M in 2014 and 2015 then have an option of $13M in 2016 with a $1.5M buyout.

    Would give him the largest deal in Tribe history as well (beating Hafner’s $56M deal).

    Buys out 2 years of free agency….which Boras will hate. But Choo will be 32 at the end of 2015 and would still be in line for another big payday like Werth is now. Even if he stays with the option he’d be 33. Not old for an outfielder who didn’t become an everyday player really til he was 25.

    Doable? I think so. Likely? Probably not…..probably 3 years is the most (buying out the arby years)…..though I do think Choo will give us some help as the Indians have done right by him, letting him play in many tourneys with the Korean National team.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      Didn’t Boras say somewhere that Choo extension would not any of his FA years? Which is understandable since he would want his client to hit FA as soon as possible.

      • Hermie13 5 years ago

        He didn’t say either way really….but the way he said it made it sound like he was willing to go beyond just arby years.

        He’s always open to extentions if they only occur during arby years, as a lot of times it can mean more money for his client (get paid more the first year which helps).

        It’s not unheard of for Boras and a client to go beyond just arby years though. Carlos Pena should have been a free agent after last season but signed a 3 year extention at the start of the 2008 season. That bought out his 2nd year arby, 3rd year, and 1st year of free agency.

        I think a 4 year deal is much more doable than the deal I proposed (I was being very optimistic with it, I admit).

        I think with Choo that Boras will be willing to let 1 free agent year go….especially if the Indians “overpay” the first year or two of arby (like i said, give him $5M or so when he would only get $3.5M as incentive to sign for that extra year).

    • $1519287 5 years ago

      Markakis is a perfect comp. Thanks.

      – BNS

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      I don’t know if he will have to go back or not. I’m assuming that if something isn’t worked out S Korea could make life tough for amateur players wanting to come over the US for college or professional sports.

      Boras is good but I don’t think he can dictate foreign policy to a sovereign nation.

    • bjsguess 5 years ago

      I don’t know if he will have to go back or not. I’m assuming that if something isn’t worked out S Korea could make life tough for amateur players wanting to come over the US for college or professional sports.

      Boras is good but I don’t think he can dictate foreign policy to a sovereign nation.

    • Only tourney he participated so far for the Team Korea is the WBC in 2009. November’s Asian game would only be his 2nd time with the national team.

  3. Eric 5 years ago

    Considering the tendencies of Scott Boras, I think a 3YR/18M-21M deal is likely; 3M-4M in 2011, 6M-7M in 2012 and finally 9M-10M in 2013. The Indians might take that deal if the 3rd year is a club/mutual option in the unlikely case of non-tender territory.

  4. Montero1220 5 years ago

    This is a guy I’ve always wished the Yankees would trade for. Just an all around great player. The Indians have many holes that they could fill by trading him. They’re not known for handing out big contracts to their players anyway.

    Brett Gardner+Joba Chamberlain and/or Andrew Brackman (Ohio native!) for Shin-Soo Choo. How do ya like that one!

    Move him to left field. Choo-Granderson-Swisher outfield sounds beast.

    • sleepyjesus 5 years ago

      How does that trade fill any holes? The Indians have plenty of relievers that are prone to implosions and plenty of fringe outfielders with no pop. Furthermore, if the Yankees landed Choo, why would they waste his arm in left field to keep Swisher in right?

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      as far as i’m concerned, Chamberlain has lost significant trade value. i’l take Choo over Gardner and a AAA pitcher any day every day all day.

      • roomwithamoose 5 years ago

        yeah, well it wouldn’t make much sense anyway for either team in that regard anyway. The Yankees have a good outfield, and even though Choo is a better player than Gardner if we’re gonna trade prospects + major league players it should obviously be for an area of need. Choo is great and would love him to be wearing pinstripes, but the Indians can get much better for Choo. That being said, when i started noticing numbers i’d like to know how UZR regarded Paul O’neil, offensively i see similarities between the two, so i would like to see how similar or not defensively.

      • roomwithamoose 5 years ago

        yeah, well it wouldn’t make much sense anyway for either team in that regard anyway. The Yankees have a good outfield, and even though Choo is a better player than Gardner if we’re gonna trade prospects + major league players it should obviously be for an area of need. Choo is great and would love him to be wearing pinstripes, but the Indians can get much better for Choo. That being said, when i started noticing numbers i’d like to know how UZR regarded Paul O’neil, offensively i see similarities between the two, so i would like to see how similar or not defensively.

    • Hermie13 5 years ago

      No thanks. Brackman is a future reliever. Tribe has too many of those in the high levels. Even if he remains a starter, don’t see him beating out the guys we have coming up.

      Joba would be a setup guy in Cleveland….no thanks.

      And we can’t have Gardner and Brantley in the same outfield….you have to have some power.

      If I trade Choo, I’m trading him for Colby Rasmus or a stud pitcher like maybe Garza or Shields. Not a bunch of retreads from NY.

      • vinnieg 4 years ago

        what why would you trade him for garza or sheilds?

        i want choo as a yankee id like to make swish the DH and plug in Choo in right. hes such an underrated player.

        how bout Montero (DH after Hafner’s contract), Banuelos, Heathcott, Noesi, Brackman for Choo and Carmona

  5. pokesaladannie 5 years ago

    Rumors are floating around the Waldorf Hotel in Orlando about Shin-Soo Choo going to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp.

  6. Hermie13 5 years ago

    Not how it works. All Choo has to do is become a US citizen and stay in the US….which he does anyways. The Korean government can’t come into this country and take him back.

    It’s not a Boras thing…it’s a Choo thing. Choo doesn’t want to serve, so he won’t. END of discussion on that.

  7. Patattack 5 years ago

    It is that simple. He can do the military service at any time, and he already said he has no intention of serving in the prime of his career. If he wants to go back to South Korea, he will do his service when he is not in the prime of his career, or he retires, so he isn’t giving up his citizenship; he is essentially postponing it.

  8. Patattack 5 years ago

    It is that simple. He can do the military service at any time, and he already said he has no intention of serving in the prime of his career. If he wants to go back to South Korea, he will do his service when he is not in the prime of his career, or he retires, so he isn’t giving up his citizenship; he is essentially postponing it.

  9. Hermie13 5 years ago

    ugh, please read what I siad. Choo does NOT live in Korea. He lives in Phoneix, Arizona in the winter with his wife. He may own a house in Korea…but he doesn’t live there EVER.

    So yes, it’s as simple as just living where he currently does, which is the US.

    He’s not going back, period.

  10. JacksTigers is right~ Hermie

    i know Choo has right to become US Citizen~ he stays in there~ during the offseson 2~ he went to Korea just couple of times in several yrs coz military stuff is very complicated in Korea n is the big issue bout Choos situation~
    if he get us citizenship witout any duty, many blames will come n get some trouble~

    thts why he prefers to get Gold Medal thn citizenship~ n played WBC b4~

  11. JacksTigers is right~ Hermie

    i know Choo has right to become US Citizen~ he stays in there~ during the offseson 2~ he went to Korea just couple of times in several yrs coz military stuff is very complicated in Korea n is the big issue bout Choos situation~
    if he get us citizenship witout any duty, many blames will come n get some trouble~

    thts why he prefers to get Gold Medal thn citizenship~ n played WBC b4~

  12. sleepyjesus 5 years ago

    He can’t do the military service at any time, otherwise this wouldn’t be an issue. “All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve two years in the military by the end of their 30th year.”
    link to cleveland.indians.mlb.com

  13. sleepyjesus 5 years ago

    He can’t do the military service at any time, otherwise this wouldn’t be an issue. “All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve two years in the military by the end of their 30th year.”
    link to cleveland.indians.mlb.com

  14. Patattack 5 years ago

    Read the sentence after that one. “He has made it clear he has no intention of giving up two years of his baseball prime to fulfill the obligation.”

    Choo has to know something that we don’t. If he was really concerned about his military service looming over his head, he wouldn’t have signed the best agent in baseball with arbitration coming up for him, and especially when the military clock is ticking.

  15. Patattack 5 years ago

    Read the sentence after that one. “He has made it clear he has no intention of giving up two years of his baseball prime to fulfill the obligation.”

    Choo has to know something that we don’t. If he was really concerned about his military service looming over his head, he wouldn’t have signed the best agent in baseball with arbitration coming up for him, and especially when the military clock is ticking.

  16. Patattack 5 years ago

    I actually didn’t see the part about it being at the age of 30.

    However, you are ignoring the second part of my original comment, which is he has made it clear he doesn’t intend to give up 2 good seasons in his prime. I think this is evident when he hired Scott Boras. If you hire Boras as your agent, especially with arbitration right around the corner, you are looking to get paid. You wouldn’t hire such an agent if you weren’t planning on playing in the MLB, especially with the limited time that he has to complete his service. Along with him living here year-round, it seems more and more like this is where he wants to be. I also vaguely remember a talk show in Cleveland telling of a scenario of how he could be exempt of the service other than the gold medal (I couldn’t tell you what it was honestly, all I remember is that it would involve some sort of agreement between the Indians and the South Korean government)

    Could he go back to Korea? I’m not ruling it out. But the likelihood of it? Most of the evidence points towards him staying.

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