Who needs Choo the most?
Determining which of the outfielder's suitors gains the most by signing him
It seems that every year, agent Scott Boras plays the waiting game with one of his more in-demand clients, until one team gets antsy and offers a contract that may be for more than what it had budgeted. This year, that client is Shin-Soo Choo.
There are a few factors that are drawing out the courtship of Choo, of course. With Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury being the position-player free agents in the highest demand, it was natural for Choo to have to wait a little bit. There is also the fact that he received a qualifying offer, which means he will cost the team that signs him a draft pick. Lastly, there are his platoon splits.
As Keith Law stated in his top 50 free agents story in November, Choo has a bit of a platoon split. It's not that his batting eye vanishes against lefties -- his 10 percent walk rate and .333 on-base percentage are still healthy against southpaws. But he becomes a slap hitter. In the past three seasons, Choo has slugged just .293 against lefties.
With all of that said, few players are better at getting on base than Choo -- Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are the only two players to reach safely more times than Choo in the past two years -- and he is still a $20 million per year player.
As we look to where he fits, there are obviously a bunch of teams that could use him, but I've honed in on four realistic suitors who "need" him the most. And there they are.
It's not that Andy Dirks, Rajai Davis and Torii Hunter aren't good players -- it's just that they're not good enough to put the Tigers in the driver's seat for a pennant run. The Indians and Royals both figure to be strong challengers to Detroit again in 2014, and right now the Tigers' corner outfield options pale by comparison.
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Jim Bowden lists the primary offseason targets for all 30 teams.