On Saturday, Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract that will be back-loaded in order to give the team financial flexibility in 2014. This is another $100 million deal that robs Peter to pay Paul.
I was skeptical the last time the Rangers paid a Scott Boras client who was 31 years old to a large contract. In January 2011, the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre to a five-year, $80 million deal with a vesting option for $16 million in 2016. When Beltre was signed, I was happy that it would get Michael Young off third base, but worried about his ability to meet the value the contract demanded. Beltre has been an amazing asset to this ballclub, as he hasn’t had a season in Arlington where he had an OPS under .880 and has been worth 18.3 wins in his three seasons. Of course, when the Rangers brought him in, Beltre was coming off a season in Boston where he had 7.8 rWAR. Beltre is a future Hall of Famer whereas Choo has never had a MVP-like season (worth eight wins in a season). In fact, Choo has only had two All-Star level seasons (five wins plus) and those were in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. So why give the aging outfielder the sixth richest contract for an outfielder in MLB history? The answer is simple: need.
Texas needed someone to fill the black hole in left field that Murphy created with his .220/.282/.374 season. Also, as my fellow WFAA writer Joseph Usery pointed out, the Rangers needed a leadoff hitter with an incredible ability to get on base.
The concern is not only the cost of the contract, but Choo’s lack of ability against left-handed pitching. As ESPN’s Mark Simon pointed out on Twitter, this is all you need to know about Choo’s splits:
Keith Law goes as far as to say that he “should sit against good left-handers like David Price and Chris Sale.” That’s not what you want to read about a guy the franchise just busted the budget for, but I do believe in this front office. Of course, will this front office still be here at the end of this contract in 2020?
If the Kinsler/Fielder trade didn’t prove this team is all about “winning now,” Choo’s contract tells you they are pushing their chips to the middle of the table. Budget be damned.
I’m a strong believer in the mantra “flags fly forever” and if the Rangers win a World Series during Choo’s tenure as a Ranger, then it was all worth it. I still believe the Cliff Lee trade was worth its weight in gold because that trade took a franchise that had only won one playoff game to its first World Series appearance ever.
Seven years from now, I hope fans are able to see World Series pennants waving from atop the Ballpark and smile. Otherwise, people will be grumbling about a 39-year-old outfielder being paid for what he did in yesteryear. $100 million contracts don’t last forever, but they stick around for a long time. Ask former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks or Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s owner Arte Moreno.
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook