Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Indians Still Working Long-Term Deal with Choo

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians have come to terms on a one year contract worth $3.975M with star outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, which allows both sides to avoid an uncomfortable arbitration hearing.  Despite the agreement, Indians GM Chris Antonetti indicated that the two sides are still working on a multi-year deal that would keep Choo in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
Antonetti was not able to convince Choo and agent Scott Boras to sign a multiyear deal. Choo, the Indians' best player, can't be a free agent until after the 2013 season, which means Antonetti still has time to extend Choo's stay in Cleveland.
"We're still in the midst of discussions," said Antonetti. "I don't view it as the negotiations being closed."
When asked about the possibility of Choo signing a multiyear deal, Boras, in an e-mail, said, "My role as an attorney for a player is to listen to all and then advise."
It's important to note that Scott Boras rarely allows his clients to sign a contract that not only buys out a player's arbitration seasons, but also delays the onset of free agency.   That said, it's certainly not unheard of. Carlos Gonzalez recently signed a seven year $80M contract with the Rockies that bought out all of his arbitration seasons plus his first three seasons of free agent eligibility.  When Boras does allow his clients to sign one of these deals, it's usually because the signing team agrees to pay the player more money than he projects to receive by going year-to-year via the arbitration process.

Choo is one of the brightest and most undervalued stars in the game.  Last season, he produced a .388 wOBA (.300/.401/.484), with a +2.9 UZR in right field, and a 5.6 fWAR.  Going into his age-28 season, Choo projects to be a very good major league ballplayer for the foreseeable future.  He hits for average, draws walks, hits for extra bases, plays solid defense, and runs the bases well.  Players that have a versatile skill set, like Choo, tend to age well because they have something to fall back on once one of their primary skills start to decline.  Think J.D. Drew or Jayson Werth, minus the injuries.

While the Indians are a small market team with a modest payroll, they'd be wise to open the coffers for Choo.

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