The Texas Rangers will likely continue to shop Shin-Soo Choo and his hefty contract in 2019. Will their bargaining price lessen or will they approach the market indifferently?
Two years and $42 million is what remains on Shin-Soo Choo‘s 7-year, $130 million contract with the Texas Rangers. It just so happens to be back-loaded too, beginning at $14 million the initial two years, then 20 the next three, and 21 the final two. Was it a bad contract? You could say so; however, it’s better described as an untimely contract.
Like any team that signs a 31-year-old to a 7-year contract, the Rangers knew Choo might lose his productivity in the final years of the agreement. It was the first few seasons that they were really paying a premium, in hopes that he would provide them an All-Star left-handed bat.
Unfortunately, it took ’til 2018 for Choo to give the Rangers an All-Star performance. He earned his first All-Star nomination in his 14-year career in 2018, but it came during a season in which Texas finished last in the American League West.
Now, he’s 36 years old and taking up space on a roster that is filled with position players under the age of 26. Choo is known to be a great teammate. He’s selfless, uplifting, and he can still swing the bat a little. The problem is he’s not really a necessary piece within the Rangers’ current plans.
The front office has shopped him throughout the past two seasons, but it’s that back-loaded contract that never fails to steer interested parties away. Surely the Rangers will continue to shop Shin-Soo Choo, though, at this point, they probably wouldn’t be too upset if he closed out his contract while in Texas.
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He may be old compared to practically everyone else on the roster, but a young team always benefits from a veteran voice. Also, the many new coaches could use the assistance of a veteran who has been with the team for a lengthy time. Choo and Elvis Andrus are really the only two that qualify.
If the Texas Rangers remain gung-ho on trading Choo, they’ll need great help from him. A first half parallel to the one he put forth last season might do the trick. He would be a quality DH or pinch hitter for a contending team. If any team does acquire him, the most they might give up is a run-of-the-mill prospect. No matter what, Texas would have to eat much of what remains on Choo’s contract.
Ultimately, it comes down to two this…
If the Rangers feel he’s taking away valuable at-bats from one of their up and coming players, they should trade him at basically any cost. They’ll get something in return and perhaps they’ll be relieved of at least part of their debt to Choo. What’s most important is the young player benefiting from big league at-bats.
On the other hand, the Rangers likely won’t be making much headway towards contention by the time Choo’s contract is up. Therefore, they could keep him around if they don’t feel he is a significant hindrance.
Do I think 2019 is the year the Texas Rangers trade Shin-Soo Choo? I can’t answer the question definitively. It all depends on how he performs in the first half of 2019. If he’s hitting .250 with 10 home runs and a sub-.330 OBP, it’s unlikely any team would want him. If he’s hitting .293 with 18 homers and a .405 OBP (like in 2018), perhaps it’s finally time he moves along.
Frankly, it may not be until July of 2020 that a team wants him. That way the receiving team won’t have to keep him for another season. Perhaps we’ll revisit the topic around then.