Cubs Expected To Pursue Shin-Soo Choo This Winter

The Cubs will be looking to add a left-handed hitter and upgrade their team's on-base percentage this winter, issues that could be simultaneously addressed by signing Shin-Soo Choo.  The Cubs are expected to "make a run" at signing Choo in the offseason, industry sources tell's Patrick Mooney.

Choo will be a free agent this winter and is heading to the open market on a high note.  The South Korean outfielder entered Thursday's play hitting .281/.416/.454 with 16 homers, 40 RBI, 83 runs and 14 steals (out of 23 chances) in 560 PA for the Reds.  Choo has played out of position as a center fielder in Cincinnati but would almost surely move back to a corner outfield spot if he were to sign with Chicago.

Tim Dierkes ranked Choo fifth in the latest edition of MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and Choo's strong season should put agent Scott Boras in position to ask for at least a four-year, $60MM contract, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer recently opined.  Choo will undoubtedly draw interest from several teams this winter, and while his age (31) may be a question mark for some teams, Choo could be seen as a cheaper alternative to Jacoby Ellsbury, also a free agent and represented by Boras.

Mooney thinks that while Ellsbury shares a history with Cubs president Theo Epstein, the team is unlikely to have splurge on the "megadeal" required to sign Ellsbury.  It remains to be seen how much the Cubs will be able or willing to add in payroll this winter, though as evidenced by last year's surprising Edwin Jackson signing, the Cubs won't hesitate to spend for a player they feel can be a valuable piece even as the team is rebuilding.

Anthony Rizzo is the only left-handed bat assured of a regular spot in the Cubs lineup next year (Nate Schierholtz still isn't seen as an everyday player despite his solid 2013 campaign) and the Cubs' top four position player prospects are all right-handed bats.  As well, the Cubs entered Thursday with a .302 team OBP, third-worst in baseball. 

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