Choo Deal Addresses Last Of Rangers’ Major Needs

Now that the Rangers have agreed to terms with Shin-Soo Choo, most of their offseason maneuvering is complete, as Richard Durrett of notes. Or, at least, it could be complete. Whether or not the Rangers are actually done remains to be seen. At this point, though, the Rangers appear to have addressed all their major needs.

Heading into the offseason, we noted that the Rangers would likely look to try to upgrade the first base and designated hitter positions, and that a trade of Ian Kinsler might make sense, given their infield logjam. The Rangers addressed both issues with one deal, sending Kinsler to the Tigers for Prince Fielder and $30MM. Despite receiving cash from the Tigers, the deal added to the Rangers' payroll burden, but it also gave them a star-caliber first baseman (Steamer projects Fielder will be worth 3.6 WAR in 2014), allowing them to bump Mitch Moreland to DH and open second base for top prospect Jurickson Profar, who will join Fielder, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre in the Rangers' infield.

2013 Rangers catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto were both eligible for free agency after the season, leaving the Rangers in need of two big-league catchers. Rather than signing Brian McCann or making another big-ticket move, the Rangers went cheap at catcher, re-signing Soto with the idea that he would be their primary backstop in 2014. Soto served as Pierzynski's backup in 2013, but at age 31 and coming off a .245/.328/.466 season, he could be a bargain at one year and $3.05MM. With Soto in the fold, the Rangers signed J.P. Arencibia to be his backup. Arencibia hit just .194/.227/.365 in 2013, but his above-average power could play well in Texas.

At the beginning of December, the Rangers sent sabermetric favorite Craig Gentry (who produced a whopping 3.4 WAR in a part-time role in 2013, thanks largely to his defense) and pitcher Josh Lindblom to Oakland for outfielder Michael Choice and infield prospect Chris Bostick. Texas exchanged one excellent role player for an outfielder in Choice with more long-term upside and years of control. The deal also allowed Leonys Martin to move into a full-time role in center field, with Engel Beltre, who is out of options, becoming his backup.

And then came another blockbuster, as the Rangers agreed to terms with Choo on a seven-year, $130MM deal. With Nelson Cruz departing via free agency, the Rangers had a spot open in their outfield (more on Choice's role in a second), and a need for a big bat.

Choo isn't an archetypal slugger, but he's posted on-base percentages north of .390 in four of the last six seasons. As some analysts, such as ESPN's Keith Law (Insider-only), noted, the Rangers are taking a big long-term risk with a contract of this size. Choo is already 31 and is a poor hitter against lefties, meaning there's a good chance he'll need to be shoehorned into a part-time role well before the contract ends. Choo's high HBP totals — he had a career-high 26 in 2013 — make him an injury concern going forward. And as ESPN's Dan Szymborski notes (via Twitter), high-OBP corner outfielders who don't have great power tend to decline quickly. Choo also will cost the Rangers their first-round draft pick next year. In the short term, though, Choo is a huge upgrade at the Rangers' last remaining key position of need.

The Rangers will likely head into 2014 with Alex Rios and Choo as their main options at the corner outfield positions. With Martin in center, that means the only starting offensive position that's even a little bit unsettled is designated hitter. While it still isn't impossible that the Rangers could re-sign Cruz, they now have enough decent options at the position that they could just go into 2014 with what they have. Moreland, a lefty, would likely take most of the at bats against righties, and Choice might be an option at the position as well. What the Rangers plan to do with Choice is unclear. The Rangers could option him to Triple-A to play every day. But as a righty, he would also have value as a bench outfielder and occasional DH, filling in for Moreland or Choo when lefties take the mound.

The Rangers have no obvious needs in their rotation, with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Alexi Ogando occupying four spots, Matt Harrison returning from injury to take the fifth one, and Nick Tepesch available as depth. With a variety of options at the closer position, including Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers and Joakim Soria, they don't have to worry about replacing the departing Joe Nathan, either.

The Rangers might not be done making news. If they were to re-sign Cruz, for example, they might then trade Moreland to a team like the Pirates or Brewers. But they don't need to make any more big moves. They've acquired two catchers, cleared the way for Profar and added two big bats in Fielder and Choo. They already appear to be mostly set for 2014.

65 Responses to Choo Deal Addresses Last Of Rangers’ Major Needs Leave a Reply

  1. charles stevens 2 years ago

    I’m not comfortable with Ogando in the rotation. He doesn’t hold up well pitching that many innings. He’s much better suited for a set-up role. I’d rather see Tepesch in the rotation.

    • Steven Russell 2 years ago

      He had some problems in the heat a couple years ago then the injury so that’s a question mark but he was pitching at an all star level up until that point. If we don’t add another pitcher via trade or Tanaka then I say let he and Colby Lewis battle it out for the #5 spot. I’d prefer Colby to win it so Ogando can return to the pen where he dominates.

  2. John Curiel III 2 years ago

    I’m a happy Rangers fan.

  3. Seanb1223 2 years ago

    Great analysis. The deferment of $5M until 2015 and 2016 would lead you to believe it adds flexibility to make another move, either before spring training or at the trade deadline. It’s going to be a much more potent offense in the coming seasons, especially if Profar breaks out and Leonys Martin continues to improve. The OBPs of Fielder and Choo (both at .389 for their careers) are big improvements. Plus, their plate discipline will help with the number of pitches seen, where Rangers finished 9th place in the AL in 2013. They should get to opposing bullpens sooner, and Beltre is primed for a huge RBI season. I’m ready for the season to start now.

    • Steven Russell 2 years ago

      Yes plate discipline is huge, we haven’t had a ton of that lately. Two of the top ten OBP guys will help a lot. I agree about Beltre, he’s going to rake.

      I’m excited to see Profar, Perez and Martin full time. Exciting young players who have high ceilings and a lot of potential.

    • oz10 2 years ago

      I think the deferment has more to do with the new TV deal that goes into affect in 2015. That’s $60 million more per year affecting the bottom line ($20 mil old deal to the $80 mil deal starting in 2015). That plus the extra $25mil per year coming from the national TV deal has the Rangers rolling in money.

  4. MadmanTX 2 years ago

    I think the lineup looks great. Imagine if we added Tanaka and got Cruz back too. Geez. It’ll be interesting to see how we look going into training camp. I see a Tigers and Yankees fans on the internet slamming all this press the Rangers are getting, but I think that’s their fear talking.

    • Andy Todd 2 years ago

      Tanaka!!!! Yes! Cruz however, I could live without. I’d rather the Rangers focus on Tanaka

      • Seanb1223 2 years ago

        I doubt the Rangers go after Tanaka now. With Rios reaching free agency next offseason and the rotation as strong as it is, the money can to to bigger areas of need. That said, I wouldn’t put it passed JD and this ownership group to go for him. That rotation would be filthy for years to come.

        • outlawsundown 2 years ago

          Plus it would give them the option to trade a starter and maybe get another bat that way.

      • Adrian Altamirano 2 years ago

        Tanaka is over hyped. He’s gonna ask for more money than Darvish, and he’s not even at his level! He just has a gilded record that brought him into the spotlight. Our pitching is good as it is.

    • LooksEasyOnTV 2 years ago

      It’s called Spring Training–not “Training Camp” (this isn’t football).

      • oz10 2 years ago

        I am going to come to Madman’s defense. He and I don’t always agree but he is on here all the time and knows his stuff so that was just a slip for him.

      • oz10 2 years ago

        I am going to come to Madman’s defense. He and I don’t always agree but he is on here all the time and knows his stuff so that was just a slip for him.

  5. BaMafromLa 2 years ago

    Whoever signs Cruz will regret it, especially considering the kind of contract he’s asking for.

    • Steven Russell 2 years ago

      I’d take him back at a 2 year contract max in Texas now that we have Choo. He’d be a perfect DH type guy and we don’t have any aging guy that need the DH spot in the next two years. Nothing longer than that though, not a necessity.

  6. texasmariner 2 years ago

    I didn’t see any mention of Colby Lewis aka Colbyashi possibly competing for a starting role, is this still a possibility or am I crazy?

    • Steven Russell 2 years ago

      Yep it’s still possible, it would be nice if he could just dominate spring training and take the job so we can put Ogando in the pen but who knows. He’s had trouble staying healthy but he was always so consistent and solid. Perfect #5.

    • outlawsundown 2 years ago

      Sounds like the 5th slot will be up for grabs. Ross and Scheppers are both stretching out for spring training and Tepesch will probably compete again. Lewis will probably also compete for it if he is ready to go by then. Ogando will probably also compete but honesty he hasn’t been durable as a starter.

      • txftw 2 years ago

        Scheppers isn’t going to be stretched out. He’s either the 8th inning guy again or gets to close over Feliz and Soria, it’s up for grabs in spring training at this point

        • outlawsundown 2 years ago

          Reports were that he is currently stretching out for spring training. Basically he is a long shot candidate but the team was going to let him compete for the slot.

          • txftw 2 years ago

            Where are these reports? I’m not saying they don’t exist, it’s just hard to believe. Scheppers hasn’t started in years and we just let our closer walk so I just don’t see it

          • oz10 2 years ago

            google “schepper stretched to start” and the top story is from CBS Sports.

            It never hurts to have a relievers arm stretched out to start as it just makes them more durable for a long season. But if he comes to spring training and blows everyone away then put him in the rotation. A starting pitcher is always more valuable than a reliever.

          • txftw 2 years ago

            Ah thank you, I haven’t been completely paying attention since the holidays started. It seems like he wants to start and the org is happy to let him try. I still see him coming out of the bullpen, but we will see I guess

          • oz10 2 years ago

            The Rangers have usually not opposed to this. CJ Wilson was a good reliever and valuable as such but they let him start and he took off. Didn’t work out so well for Feliz. Ogando is in the kind of category. Ross and Scheppers both want to start as they both know the big money is in starting. An average starter is now getting $10mil a year (Feldman) so who wouldn’t want to try and start? Not many closers are even getting 3 yr $30 mil contracts like he did. (And good for Feldman, always liked him but a 3 – 30 deal is not what I expected for him)

  7. outlawsundown 2 years ago

    Personally I’d rather see Ogando in the bullpen so far he just doesn’t seem to stay healthy as a starter.

  8. Tony Matias 2 years ago

    Ya see… and this is another reason why I didn’t understand the Cano signing for the Mariners. Texas is going to be brutal and if Hamilton and Pujols live up to their salary, and throw in the A’s Billy “Pull the rabbit out of the hat” Beane and the Mariners are going to be hard-pressed to be within 10 games of the AL West leader.

    Of course it’s early, but adding one more piece to the M’s team isn’t going to make them contenders and from recent reports, the money isn’t there to do that anyways.

    If the Mariners don’t have a couple significant trades in 2014, then that will be 24mm down the drain IMO. Clock is ticking JZ.

    • txftw 2 years ago

      They still have one of the best pitching staffs in the AL, it’s just going to be the offense that will struggle. Cano does help that at least

    • Marc Anderson 2 years ago

      If Hamilton and Pujols live up to half their salary it would be a marked improvement and make the Angels dangerous. But not sure that can happen. I have more faith in Pujols returning to form. somewhat, not completely. It became clear around here in Dallas, and was even reported when he was here, that Hamilton doesn’t really enjoy the game. I don;t see that he has ANY incentive to try and improve his game.

      • RyanWKrol 2 years ago

        The same has been said about Kuroda. But he’s still been effective. I think with Hamilton it’s more of an issue of being an over aggressive hitter who no longer has the privilege of playing in a hitter’s paradise.

        • james 2 years ago

          He did the same thing in this ballpark & being aggressive has nothing to do with the park

    • Daniel Franklin 2 years ago

      JZ is already done… got his only client $240M 😉

  9. I think there’s a need for another starter. Maybe not an obvious one, but Ogando is better suited for the bullpen, Perez hasn’t pitched a full season yet and their depth is lacking. The offensive upgrades and presumably strong bullpen should make up for that, but Daniels should look for some viable pitching options to throw into the mix even if they’re cheap.

    • Seanb1223 2 years ago

      Between Ross, Tepesch, Lewis, and Ogando, I think they can find a suitable #5 internally.

      • Marc Anderson 2 years ago

        Not sure Ross has the strength or endurance to be a starter. He faded drastically in the latter part of the season as a reliever.

        • talcha32 2 years ago

          He was a starter throughout his minor league career. He’s capable of starting in the majors. It’s just a matter of him beating out the other guys.

    • talcha32 2 years ago

      Disagree. 1-4 is already set with Darvish, Holland, Harrison, and Perez.

      Then you have Ogando, Lewis, Tepesch, and Ross fighting for the #5 spot.

      Think we’ll be good to go here.

  10. Jeff Miller 2 years ago

    After the Choo signing, what is the plan for Michael Choice? Does he ride the bench as a reserve OF, play in Triple-A, get traded?

    • talcha32 2 years ago

      Bench player and likely Rios’ replacement in the future.

    • Dustin Bicknell 2 years ago

      He will probably be played mostly against leftys since Choo is awful against them.

      • Seanb1223 2 years ago

        While his average isn’t ideal against lefties, his .347 OBP suggests he isn’t awful.

        • Daniel Franklin 2 years ago

          Exactly! Cruz only gets on-base 1.6% more often against lefties than Choo. (.356 vs .340)

        • Trock 2 years ago

          Agreed. Even if you wanted to define him as awful against lefties, you dont let money sit on the bench, especially with how good Choo is period.

  11. ahamsterman 2 years ago

    Why on earth would Fielder be shifting Moreland to DH? I haven’t looked at the defensive stats but surely Moreland is a better defender than Fielder right? I’d hope so for Moreland’s sake or that’s pretty bad.

    • Spit Ball 2 years ago

      I would love to see Fielder and Moreland in a sumu wrestling match for the first base job. Fielder has the girth but Moreland is “country strong.”

    • Rangers72 2 years ago

      I had the same question. Makes no sense to me. It has been suggested that Fielder does not hit as well when at DH, or perhaps does not want to be a full-time DH. I would think vs Righties = Moreland at 1B/Fielder at DH. Vs Lefties = Fielder at 1B/Choice(?) at DH.

      • Daniel Franklin 2 years ago

        More than likely it has something to do with the fact that you want to keep your big contract guys happy, and Fielder might not be happy as a full time DH immediately after being acquired…

    • Rangers72 2 years ago

      I had the same question. Makes no sense to me. It has been suggested that Fielder does not hit as well when at DH, or perhaps does not want to be a full-time DH. I would think vs Righties = Moreland at 1B/Fielder at DH. Vs Lefties = Fielder at 1B/Choice(?) at DH.

  12. kungfucampby 2 years ago

    The Rangers have a DH, they need an everyday 1B.

    • talcha32 2 years ago

      Fielder and Moreland are those guys.

      Moreland has ridiculous power. A little more consistency and he could easily be one of our best hitters.

      • kungfucampby 2 years ago

        Fielder isn’t a 1B. Tigers learned that the hard way.

        • talcha32 2 years ago

          That’s true. I don’t expect Fielder to be our main 1B for very long. Moreland is clearly the better fielder. He worked on it a lot last offseason and it showed this year.

  13. Matt Talbert 2 years ago

    Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison should be the 4/5 guys (and that’s solid there) both have shown ability to pitch like low end #2s mid rotation types. Ogando would look good out of the pen to shore up the pen. That makes a lot of sense, I suppose Nick could go to AAA for his regular turns or be the long reliever spot starter.

    • oz10 2 years ago

      Harrison has shown to be our second best pitcher. As long as he is healthy again he is the #2. Holland is 3rd and then Perez.

  14. gabriel 2 years ago

    go for kendry morales to DH spot.

  15. LoneTXRanger 2 years ago

    I don’t understand why the rangers don’t go out there and try to sign a 5th starter. With us believed to be out on Tanaka, why don’t we just shop the starting pitching market while everybody else waits to see if Tanaka even gets posted. We could steal away a decent pitcher at a good price while everyone else plays the waiting game.

    • txftw 2 years ago

      Some of those guys probably want to see what Tanaka gets or is asking for to use against teams in negotiations, but I agree I’d like to see them grab someone in case Harrison and Lewis don’t rebound (and I bet one of them won’t).

      • LoneTXRanger 2 years ago

        I agree, I can see one of those not panning out. It can never hurt having extra starting pitchers. Say we did go out and pick up a starting pitcher, then they have flexibility. They could send Nick down Round Rock to develope some more. Then when someone goes down were ready to go.

        Are we also confident that we can develop a closer from within? I’m not so sure that’s what we should do.

        • txftw 2 years ago

          If they wanted to go give Balfour 2/15 I’d be in favor of it, but I think Scheppers can be/should be the guy. I also think he will have his share of struggles in his first year closing and with the “win now” mode the Rangers have put themselves into I know that probably isn’t ideal……

          But we went to the World Series with Feliz so maybe that’s just our formula :)

          • LoneTXRanger 2 years ago

            I don’t know about Balfour, I’m a little nervous to think he’s going to hold up…
            I really think Scheppers should/could be our guy. My only other thought is, Feliz. He could come back to close. I like that idea, 100+mph, big difference from joe

    • txftw 2 years ago

      Some of those guys probably want to see what Tanaka gets or is asking for to use against teams in negotiations, but I agree I’d like to see them grab someone in case Harrison and Lewis don’t rebound (and I bet one of them won’t).

  16. kevmill21 2 years ago

    Luke Jackson could be MLB ready soon. Don’t sign a long term 5 starter with the first four already under control for a while. I know you can always trade excess and the rangers have good value in all four of those first four guys, but I’d just go with Colby and see what you get, be ready with a tepesch or Jackson to step in if he falters.

    • LoneTXRanger 2 years ago

      I could see a mid term deal to a starter, you can always shop them before the deadline.

  17. RyanWKrol 2 years ago

    They still need to address the back end of their rotation and bullpen. Their pen is still pretty deep, but is the late inning situation what it needs to be? The bottom half of their lineup is okay at best, and perhaps one more upgrade there is needed. Nothing wrong with a top heavy lineup though; more than half a team’s runs are generated by the first 4 spots in the lineup. It’s production from the bottom half that often separates an offense from the rest if the pack. That was their biggest need, and the question I have is will the bottom half of their lineup be productive enough? The Rangers could use additional pieces here and there. It’s gonna be a tight race in the AL West.

    • talcha32 2 years ago

      Those positions will be addressed in spring training.

      Ogando, Lewis, Tepesch and Ross will be going for the #5 spot. The losers will fill bullpen spots and AAA rotation spots.

      Scheppers, Feliz, and Soria are the top candidates to be closer.

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