It would have been a nightmare. It would have been a disaster. There was a seven-year, $140 million contract on the table for a 31-year-old center fielder. Thankfully, Shin-Soo Choo turned the contract offer down and saved the New York Yankees from themselves. Signing Choo to that huge contract would have been a regrettable decision.
According to reports, the offer was made to Choo after the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to his own seven-year contract worth $153 million. This is puzzling because the Yankees’ front office has been talking all offseason about how they want to keep the payroll under $189 million to avoid paying any taxes. If the Yankees actually did offer Choo the massive contract that various media outlets such as Yahoo! Sports are reporting, then they would have been doing the opposite of what their stated monetary goal has been throughout this whole free agency process and would have officially made the decision to not sign Robinson Cano confusing and unjustifiable. Signing Choo would have given the message that the Yankees were opening their wallets and not afraid to spend money, but it would have been a mixed message since they let their best player in Cano walk.
Thankfully, the Choo signing never happened. Once Choo said he wanted the money Ellsbury got from the Yankees, they reportedly took the offer away and gave Carlos Beltran a three-year, $45 million contract. Even though Ellsbury is only one year younger than the 31-year-old Choo, the signing of Ellsbury is a better one for the Yankees. He is a more valuable, more dynamic player. Sure, I will not deny that Choo had better offensive numbers than Ellsbury in a number of categories such as on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and home runs, but Ellsbury really is a more versatile player. Ellsbury is a much better center fielder, a difference maker on the bases, and if he can stay healthy in Yankee Stadium he should be able to make up some ground on those offensive numbers. Even if Ellsbury’s numbers stay similar to what he has put him in recent years, minus 2011, he is such a superior base runner and defender that he makes up the gap that Choo has on him when you start looking at different advanced metrics. I am not a huge fan of Wins Above Replacement, but I am coming around to it. And if you look at the WAR of outfielders in 2013, Ellsbury is the fourth best in all of baseball.
The Yankees should be happy things didn’t work out with Choo; it really would have been a mistake.