Shin-Soo Choo Rumors

Top Remaining 2014 Free Agents

Now that the Winter Meetings are over, here are the top ten remaining free agents from Tim Dierkes' Top 50 list, with updates on each.

3. Shin-Soo Choo. The acquisitions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran by the Yankees, Curtis Granderson by the Mets and Corey Hart and Logan Morrison by the Mariners have helped define the market for Choo. One report recently indicated he Rangers had a seven-year offer on the table. Not everyone agreed, but in any case, the Rangers remain interested. The Astros, Diamondbacks and Reds do not appear to be in the mix. The Tigers could be another possibility, although ESPN's Jerry Crasnick recently wrote that their acquisition of Rajai Davis ruled them out.

5. Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka's status will likely become clearer once an agreement on the posting system is ratified tomorrow. If Rakuten decides to post Tanaka, the Diamondbacks could be serious suitors, as could the Cubs. Tanaka is also the Yankees' "top choice." The Dodgers might also be a possibility, but their interest doesn't appear to be as strong as expected.

6. Ervin Santana. The Tigers are reportedly interested in Santana, and the Diamondbacks have met with his agent. The Mets probably dropped out of the race when they agreed to terms with Bartolo Colon. The Yankees do not appear to be interested.

7. Matt Garza. Unlike Santana, Garza didn't receive a qualifying offer, which may improve his market, since teams won't have to worry about losing a draft pick. The Angels and Twins have been connected to Garza, although Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says his team doesn't have an offer out for Garza, and the Twins don't want to give Garza a four- or five-year deal. The Diamondbacks have repeatedly been connected to Garza, and Arizona could be a good landing spot, particularly if the D'Backs don't come up with Tanaka or Santana.

9. A.J. Burnett. The Pirates still believe Burnett is deciding between re-signing with them or retiring, although the Orioles have shown interest, and Burnett's offseason home is in Maryland. It's been almost two months since Burnett said he would take "a week or so" to decide whether to continue playing or retire.

11. Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians want Jimenez to return, but it's unclear whether they'll make a big enough commitment to re-sign him. The Orioles might also be a possibility. Note that the last five names on this list are pitchers — with Tanaka unable to sign, Burnett a question mark, and David Price and Jeff Samardzija looming on the trade market, the free-agent market for pitching has been slow to develop.

14. Stephen Drew. Drew and Jhonny Peralta were the only big names on the shortstop market, and Peralta has already signed with the Cardinals, so Drew is a huge fish in a tiny pond. The Yankees need a second baseman after Robinson Cano and Omar Infante signed elsewhere, and a return to the Red Sox would still make sense, with Drew at shortstop and Xander Bogaerts at third. The Mets don't seem to be serious contenders.

17. Nelson Cruz. Cruz rejected a qualifying offer and is reportedly looking for a deal that pays $16MM or more a year, which may be a lot to player with limited defensive ability and scary offensive indicators. Cruz wants the Rangers to offer a three-year deal, but so far, they're only offering two. The Mariners continue to be connected to Cruz, even after adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison.

23. Bronson Arroyo. Four teams have reportedly offered Arroyo two-year deals, but Arroyo, like Cruz, seems to be holding out for three. The Twins are still a possibility even after their signings of Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and their re-signing of Mike Pelfrey. The Mets and Reds are contenders as well.

25. Grant Balfour. The Indians just agreed to terms with John Axford, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted (via Twitter) that one likely scenario for the rest of the bullpen market had Joaquin Benoit going to the Padres and Balfour heading to the Orioles. The Boston Herald's Jen Royle, meanwhile, reports that the Orioles have offered Balfour a three-year deal, but Balfour wants three years with a vesting option (Twitter links). In any case, the Orioles look like Balfour's most serious suitors by far right now, although Royle suggests the Mariners could also come into play.


Astros Notes: Choo, Loney, Carp

The Astros aren't likely to sign Shin-Soo Choo, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle argues. They don't want to sacrifice the draft pick they'd have to give up in order to sign him (even though their top overall pick is protected). They might do so if Choo's price were low enough, but at this point, there's no reason to think Choo won't be very highly paid, which means that the Astros, interested though they are in adding big-league talent to a team that lost 111 games last year, probably won't be serious players. Drellich also notes that the Astros probably only have about $10MM left to spend for 2014, and want to add a first baseman and reliever with that money. Also, even acquiring a player of Choo's caliber wouldn't make the 2014 Astros a contending team. Signing Masahiro Tanaka would make more sense, Drellich argues, since Tanaka is only 25 and wouldn't cost a draft pick.

  • The Astros were interested in James Loney, who would have filled a need (first base) and is from the Houston area, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (via Twitter). Ultimately, though, Loney wanted too much money from the Astros, McTaggart says. He re-signed with the Rays for three years and $21MM.
  • The Astros have not discussed the possibility of trading for Mike Carp with the Red Sox, Drellich tweets. Drellich also indicates that the Red Sox would seek a big return for Carp.

AL West Notes: Wilson, Young, Angels, Morrison

The Rangers made headlines today by selecting Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft.  Before going on to NFL stardom, Wilson was selected by the Rockies as a second baseman in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and Colorado retained its rights to Wilson until this morning. Wilson will report to Spring Training and talk to the Rangers' minor leaguers in a motivational capacity.  "We decided if he ever wanted to play again, he'd be a guy that we'd want with us," Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller told reporters, including MLB.com's Richard Justice.  The Wilson selection isn't a gimmick,  ESPN's Richard Durrett writes, and Jon Daniels is excited to have Wilson's winning qualities in the organization, though Daniels stressed that the club isn't trying to distract Wilson from his NFL goals.  Here's more out of the AL West…

  • Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz remain unsigned, which is good news for the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes.  The Rangers like both players and are hoping that their asking prices drop the longer they stay on the market.  Daniels said that his team's pursuit of Choo was "unchanged" from yesterday.
  • There is a chance that Michael Young could rejoin the Rangers if both parties see a fit, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets.  Texas dealt its longtime franchise staple to the Phillies last offseason and Young was subsequently dealt to the Dodgers in August.
  • Despite recent rumors linking the Angels to Matt Garza and Raul Ibanez, general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that his team doesn't have any outstanding offers to free agents.
  • In a special piece for FOX Sports, new Mariners first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison wrote about the experience of being traded to a new team. Morrison's piece is particularly fascinating in that it was written prior to the trade that sent him to Seattle. LoMo says he doesn't have any ill feelings toward the Marlins organization, adding that contrary to public opinion, owner Jeffrey Loria was "great and generous" to Morrison and his family. Loria allowed Morrison and his family to use his personal plane to get to Kansas City for the funeral of Morrison's father.
  • The Astros spoke to the Marlins about Morrison and also pursued Corey Hart and Mike Morse, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports.  Jose Veras rejected the Astros' initial contract offer but the two sides still share a mutual interest in a reunion.
  • The YankeesIndiansBravesPhilliesBlue JaysTwins and Indians were all involved in trade talks for Brett Anderson before the Athletics sent the right-hander to the Rockies, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post



Shin-Soo Choo Rumors: Thursday

As of yesterday, it appears that the MarinersDiamondbacks and Reds are all out of the market for Shin-Soo Choo. Here's the latest on the top remaining free agent position player…

  • One veteran general manager told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he thinks the Astros will ultimately be Choo's landing spot (Twitter link).
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Rangers appear comfortable going to five years for Choo, but agent Scott Boras wants a seven-year deal. Morosi wonders if they can meet in the middle.

Shin-Soo Choo Rumors: Wednesday

Reports yesterday indicated that both the Diamondbacks and Tigers are likely out of the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes (though I personally question whether or not the signing of Rajai Davis truly removes Detroit from the equation). The Rangers are still said to be in the mix, however. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick provided a rundown of potential Choo suitors yesterday, cautioning never to bet against Scott Boras. Here are Wednesday’s Choo rumors…

  • Rangers source says the club isn’t optimistic about their chances of signing Choo, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.  Texas doesn’t have a seven-year offer out to the outfielder, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
  • The Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to Choo and he is giving it serious consideration, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.  The deal is worth less than the $153MM deal that Jacoby Ellsbury inked with the Yankees but it’s strong enough for Choo to mull over.
  • The general sense among teams involved in the Choo sweepstakes is whichever team goes to eight years will land him, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.  He’s believed to have a seven-year offer in hand already.
  • The Mariners are likely out of the picture on Choo after adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison today, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Earlier Updates

  • Scott Boras spoke with more than 100 reporters today and said that he’s received multiple offers for Choo, who wants to his time and discuss all of his options with his wife. Boras said he’s received offers from teams that are rebuilding and also for teams that are looking to win in 2014. “He really is a player I think is revered,” said Boras (ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett reporting).
  • “I think we have to move on,” Reds GM Walt Jocketty told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer when asked about Choo (Twitter link).
  • The Rangers like Choo but not at his asking price, which Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears is $22MM annually (Twitter link). Nelson Cruz is a more viable option for Texas, Wilson adds.
  • Bob Nightengale of USA Today has heard that Choo is looking for $140MM over seven years (Twitter link). Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that he’s heard the same.
  • One executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Mariners and Rangers “are the lead dogs” in the Choo market (Twitter link).
  • The Reds met to discuss Choo last night, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, their inability to clear some payroll by dealing Brandon Phillips first has dimmed their chances, he adds.

AL East Links: Choo, Drew, Lester, Yankees

As we continue to round up leftovers from Day Two of the Winter Meetings with an eye toward Day Three, let's check in on the latest notes from around the AL East….

  • In a piece for ESPN.com, Jerry Crasnick breaks down all the teams that could make a run at Shin-Soo Choo, including the Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees. Crasnick concludes that the lack of very strong candidates doesn't necessarily bode well for Choo's chances of landing a $130MM+ contract, but cautions, as always, not to underestimate Scott Boras.
  • if Stephen Drew is willing to sign for two years or less, he'll likely just return to Boston, tweets Newsday's David Lennon, who adds that the Mets will probably need the Red Sox out of the mix to have a real shot at the shortstop.
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald explains why Cole Hamels' contract with the Phillies may provide a blueprint for any extension talks the Red Sox have with Jon Lester.
  • The Yankees' decision to sign three free agents who required draft pick compensation should help keep the team contend in the short term, but may further stunt the growth of the farm system, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal.

Shin-Soo Choo Rumors: Tuesday

The Diamondbacks were reportedly "determined" to leave the Winter Meetings with either Shin-Soo Choo or Mark Trumbo, and they've now landed the latter of the two, calling their role in Choo's market into question. That same report indicated that Choo is seeking something similar to Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142MM contract. Choo is arguably the top remaining free agent on the market, and talks with him were said to be reaching a "critical stage" last night. Here are Tuesday's Choo rumors (Choo-mors? …Sorry):

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Diamondbacks are now likely out of the market on Choo after acquiring Trumbo.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wonders if the Diamondbacks' reported interest in Choo was ever more than just a ploy to get the Angels moving on Trumbo. As Crasnick notes, there was never a clear fit in terms of budget (Twitter links).

Earlier Updates

  • ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that teams that have spoken with the Rangers in the past 24 hours have gotten the sense that Texas thinks Choo will be be far too expensive for them.
  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported late last night that the Rangers met with Scott Boras for a second time last night regarding Choo.
  • MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers' primary offensive targets are Choo and Nelson Cruz, but Sullivan echoes the sentiment that Choo's price tag could be an issue for Texas. Sullivan cites GM Jon Daniels, who stated yesterday that the addition of Prince Fielder figures to be his biggest move this offseason.
  • As Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported earlier (on Twitter), the arrival of Rajai Davis in Detroit makes the Tigers less likely to land Choo.

D-Backs Determined To Leave Orlando With Choo Or Trumbo

10:36am: Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register hears that there is "zero" chance the D-Backs would part with both Cahill and Skaggs to land Trumbo (Twitter link).

9:31am: One executive that spoke with the Diamondbacks came away with the impression that Arizona is getting Choo, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.

9:25am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that one potential Trumbo package that has been discussed would send both Cahill and Skaggs to the Angels, which would seem to be a tremendous haul for the right-handed slugger.

9:22am: The Diamondbacks are "determined" to leave the Winter Meetings with Shin-Soo Choo or Mark Trumbo, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). According to Sherman, Choo's asking price is said to be in the range of Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142MM contract, and the Rangers remain in the mix. One thing working in Arizona's favor in regards to Choo is that the outfielder currently resides in Buckeye, Ariz., tweets MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

The Diamondbacks emerged as players for Choo yesterday and are said to be involved in trade talks for Trumbo as well. Reportedly, names like Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Cahill have been discussed with the Angels in talks for Trumbo, who hit 34 homers last season but is seen as a below-average defender in the outfield and comes with OBP issues.


Shin-Soo Choo Talks Reaching Critical Stage

6:52pm: The Diamondbacks are in the hunt for Choo, according to Rosenthal (Twitter link). As we heard earlier, Arizona is also very much in the mix for Mark Trumbo, so as Rosenthal notes, it appears the club has several options, including trying to sign Choo and trade for a pitcher, or acquiring Trumbo and signing a free agent pitcher.

Rosenthal adds in a second tweet that Texas and Arizona aren't necessarily the only two teams in on Choo. Other clubs are likely involved as well.

6:06pm: Talks for free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo appear to be reaching a critical stage, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal reports that the Rangers and at least one other team are in the mix for one of the top free agents left on the market.

Evan P. Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that, after meeting with Nelson Cruz earlier today, Texas still has a meeting lined up with Choo. The Mariners, Tigers, and Reds are among the other clubs who have been linked to Choo during the offseason.

We heard yesterday that Choo's reps will likely use the Jacoby Ellsbury contract as a "guidepost" for their client.


Ellsbury Contract Is A Guidepost For Shin-Soo Choo

A club in on Shin-Soo Choo tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post the seven-year, $153MM contract Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to with the Yankees is being used as the guidepost in their negotiations (Twitter link). The club expects the final number to be somewhere between Ellsbury's deal and Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126MM pact with the Nationals. All three players are represented by Scott Boras, per MLBTR's Agency Database.

Several teams have been linked to Choo with varying degress of interest including the Rangers, Mariners, Tigers, Reds, Giants, Astros, and Yankees (before coming to terms with Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a six-year, $100MM contract for Choo, but the frenzied free agent spending spree this offseason makes that estimate seem quite low. Choo is the highest ranked free agent remaining on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list. 


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