Outgoing Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is being shopped above the seven-year, $126MM contract inked by Jayson Werth with the Nationals before the 2011 season, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The Scott Boras client, who is unquestionably one of the game's most attractive open market commodities, has long been rumored to be looking for nine figures, though a report yesterday said he was asking more in the $90MM range.
The Werth comparison does make sense, so far as it goes. Both Werth and Choo hit the market in their early thirties, coming off of high-OBP, mid-140-OPS+ campaigns. Werth has shown somewhat more pop, while Choo reaches base like few others. Each is regarded as a solid glove in the corner outfield. But as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in profiling Choo, the Werth contract has been viewed as a non-precedential deal. Hence, he predicts, Choo will probably get something more like six years and $100MM. Of course, contextual perception is important; with Werth coming off of an outstanding year, Boras may be able to argue that the contract is hardly the albatross it has been characterized as.
Whether or not Boras can land a Werth-sized deal, there is little question that Choo is hitting free agency at an opportune time. The remaining corner outfield market is thin, Choo returned to his earlier-career levels of performance last year, and new TV money could provide a boost in salaries around the game.