Should Mariners Bring Back Shin-Soo Choo?


Sep 24, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo bats in a game against the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Yes. That was easy.

What’s that? I should explain? You got it.

It’s no secret that the M’s offense could use a boost or two, or seven, next season. They took a few small steps forward last season, getting out of the worst-in-the-league spot. But they were still far from where we would like them to be, so they need to make a couple moves this offseason to combat that.

One spot that definitely needs to be filled is that of a corner outfielder, preferably one who can hit at or near the top of the order. The name that might first come to mind for those criteria is Jacoby Ellsbury. And while he is certainly a viable option, I think there is an equally as viable option flying under the radar. I of course, am talking about Shin-Soo Choo, who spent last year with the Reds after being traded by the Indians, after being traded by the Mariners.

Choo fits the mold described by the cliche idea that the Mariners trade away players who end up finding success elsewhere. Choo struggled in his time with the Mariners and was traded to Cleveland for Ben Broussard, who was traded 18 months later to Texas for Tug Hulett, who was designated for assignment a year later. But I digress. It was in Cleveland where Choo proceeded to break out.

For his career, Choo has a .288/.389/.465 line with a .374 wOBA. So whether you prefer traditional or advanced stats, Choo has certainly been productive at the plate.

This year was no exception, as Choo outdid his career marks and put together his best year at the plate with a .393 wOBA and 151 wRC+ for the season. And as can be seen in his .423 OBP, Choo knows how to get on base, the primary trait of a leadoff hitter.

And on top of that, he topped 20 home runs for the third time in his career in 2013, so he doesn’t come without pop either. And that power is the main aspect he has that Ellsbury doesn’t.

fWAR had Choo at a 5.2 last year, with Ellsbury coming in at 5.8. So overall, Jacoby may have had the better year. However, Choo was a much better hitter and comes with less concerns. Ellsbury has had some injury problems over his career, which has to be taken into account. We don’t want to throw $21 million a year (projected by Ken Rosenthal) at someone who only plays 100 times a season.

Choo also relies less on speed and defense, which tend to falter sooner than offense, especially when said offense is centered around patience and getting on base. He played a lot of center field last year, but he belongs in right, where his cannon of an arm and average range will play much better.

If Choo comes cheaper than Ellsbury, which I think he will, he needs to be the main target. The M’s would be receiving near equal production for less cost and likely with more certainty.