Reports are beginning to surface that the Houston Astros may pursue Shin-Soo Choo and potentially shock the entire baseball world. It would be a big signing, given that Hunter Pence, who is financially comparable to Choo, recently signed for $90 million dollars. It’s no secret; he’s definitely going to be a hot commodity.
Choo fits the bill for a lot of the voids the Astros are looking to fill. First of all, he’s got power. In his last four complete seasons, he’s never dipped below 20 home runs. Batting lead off the majority of the time, he’s also never gone below 50 RBIs. He’s also got considerable speed, never registering less than twenty steals in the same span.
He’s a great fielding right fielder, a position where the Astros have voiced their need for improvement. The one area that’s a concern is strikeouts. Again, the Astros strike out an insane amount. They set all kinds of records for strikeouts in 2013, and Choo does not offer much of an improvement in that one category, as he struck out once ever 4.3 at-bats last season, which was actually better than his career average of striking out every four at-bats.
At 31 years of age, his longevity isn’t a terrible concern, especially with the added DH option, though Choo would not find himself too often slotted into the DH spot. His price tag is going to be high, but the Astros do have tremendous flexibility as far as payroll goes. Choo would be a much more desirable signing than the Cuban Jose Abreu, who recently signed with the Chicago White Sox. Choo is a career .288 hitter and last year his walk totals skyrocketed beyond his career average.
Depending on how Jonathan Villar and Robbie Grossman do in Spring Training, Choo could find himself in a run-producing spot in the lineup, similar to where he spent his time with the Cleveland Indians.
Assuming the Astros do nab Choo, the prospect of Choo in right, Grossman in left, and George Springer in center is very appealing.