MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees interested in Shin-Soo Choo

Jared Wickerham

Ray discusses the fantasy implications of the possibility that Shin-Soo Choo signs with the Yankees this offseason.

Yesterday, CBS Sports baseball writer Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees have set their sights on signing free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo this offseason. The Yankees have about $80-90 million coming off their books this offseason, with the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, and Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Kevin Youkilis, Phil Hughes and Curtis Granderson all eligible for free agency. More than likely the Yankees will resign Cano, but you never know. They could choose to let him walk and elect to use their available funds to fill multiple holes on their roster with guys like Choo, Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka and others.

The Yankees have plenty of holes to fill this offseason including the rotation spots left open by Hughes, Kuroda and Pettitte, the closer job with Rivera retiring, third base due to the possible suspension of Alex Rodriguez, and need to upgrade their outfield as well. In addition, they may need to sign a shortstop because they don't know what they will get from Derek Jeter going forward.

Choo would provide the Yankees with one of the better leadoff hitters in the game. Let's take a quick look at how Choo performed in 2013, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Age Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2013 30 NL 154 569 107 162 34 2 21 54 20 11 112 133 .285 .423 .462 .885 143
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/23/2013.

Choo's .423 on base percentage ranked fourth in baseball this season, while his 107 runs scored was good for third in baseball. Oh, and he put up a 20-20 season as well. He's pretty damn good and would be a great fit for the Yankees. He showed he can play center field (not very well), and would be better placed in right field, but the Yankees signed Ichiro Suzuki to a two year contract last offseason, so he will man right field next season.

The fact that the Yankees have interest in Choo indicates to me that they may not make a qualifying offer to center fielder Curtis Granderson, and that would be a good move. Since becoming a Yankee, we have seen Granderson's home run totals increase, but his strikeout rate has increased as well. His strikeout rate has increased from the high teens, 17%-19% in his last two season in Detroit, to the high 20% range over the last few seasons. If they make him a qualifying offer, they risk him accepting to rebuild his value for a run at free agency in 2014.

The qualifying offer to Granderson is a big decision for the Yankees because they already have left fielder/designated hitter Alfonso Soriano signed through 2014, and the previously mentioned Suzuki in right field. Then again, if ARod is suspended for most of the 2014 season, they can use Soriano as their DH, and play Granderson and Choo in center field and left field respectively.

Ok, enough about the Yankees offseason decisions. We are really here to discuss the impact on Choo's fantasy value should he sign with the Yankees. If he does end up wearing pinstripes for the next few seasons, I see him putting up a season very similar to 2012, with a few more home runs, so his value would increase a bit. His home run total would increase due to the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. I see him putting up a 25 home run, 100+ runs scored, 20+ stolen bases and a .290-.300 batting average and would rank him in my top 20 hitters for 2014.

What do Fake Teams readers think about Choo in pinstripes? I know there are some Yankees fans out there. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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