Longtime major league outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is joining the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, Tae Woo Kim of SPOTV reports (h/t: Sung Min Kim, on Twitter). He’ll earn $2.4MM in 2021, Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net tweets.
This is a homecoming for the 38-year-old Choo, a South Korea native who played in the majors with the Mariners, Reds, Indians and Rangers from 2005-20. His greatest long-term success came in Cleveland, where the on-base machine batted .292/.383/.463 with 83 home runs and 85 stolen bases in 2,932 plate appearances. But Choo was also an above-average performer in Cincinnati and Texas, evidenced in part by the one-time All-Star’s lifetime .275/.377/.447 line with 218 HRs, 157 steals and 35.4 fWAR over 7,157 trips to the plate.
The 2020 campaign was the last season of the seven-year, $130MM guarantee Choo signed with the Rangers before 2014, and it was his worst offensive effort for the club. Choo hit .236/.323/.400 with five homers in 127 PA, dividing his time between the corner outfield and designated hitter.
Choo has had difficulty in the field throughout his career (minus-68 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-36.4 Ultimate Zone Rating), and with his age and fading offensive numbers also factored in, it appeared he would have trouble landing a guaranteed major league deal in free agency. He’s now heading back to his native country for the largest single-season payday in KBO history, per Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News.