It’s been a few seasons since Shin-Soo Choo had an opportunity for impact at-bats, but the southpaw swinger has maintained his control of the strike zone with solid bat-to-ball skills. His 10.2 walk percentage in 2020 remains solidly above-average, and though a 26.0 strikeout rate isn’t ideal, he did enough damage when he did make contact to produce a 97 wRC+. His exit velocity (90 mph), 10.1 percent barrel rate and below-average .284 BABIP suggest Choo might have gotten that wRC+ number back above average had there been a full season in 2020. Instead, that number fell below 100 for the first time since 2007.
While the 38-year-old seems to have enough left in the tank to contribute offensively, he’s long been considered a subpar defender in the outfield, a perception that’s born out in -25 career defensive runs saved across 1,722 career innings in left, and -26 DRS over 8,109 2/3 career innings in right. But Choo has been working out at first base this offseason to provide teams with another avenue for getting his bat in the lineup, per Robert Murray of FanSided (via Twitter).
That’s enough for the Brewers to give him a look, notes Murray. Presumably, the Brewers also like Choo as a potential contributor at the designated hitter spot, should it eventually find its way into the 2021 rule book. Otherwise, Choo would join a rotating collection of position players at manager Craig Counsell’s disposal. With the recent addition of Kolten Wong at second, Keston Hiura is expected to slide over to first full-time. There are at-bats to be had at third base for Hiura, as well, with Luis Urias being relatively unproven at the hot corner. All in all, it’s not hard to imagine Choo getting regular work in Milwaukee between first base and right field, where Avisail Garcia’s career splits suggest he might be best suited in a short-side platoon.
The Pirates have also expressed some interest in Choo at first base, per the Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel (via Twitter), though not much progress was made towards a deal. The Phillies are another of Choo’s known suitors.