Saturday, December 21, 2013

Choo Deserved Ellsbury Money

Boras and Choo weren't wrong to ask for Ellsbury money
Shin-Soo Choo could have been a Yankee, had they been willing to shell out $13 million more to secure his services. New York made him a seven-year, $140 million offer, which Choo rejected because he wanted a contract to match Jacoby Ellsbury's. Rather than up the ante, the Yankees didn't budge, just like they didn't budge for Robinson Cano.  As a consolation prize they went out and got Carlos Beltran for about $100 million less. Choo over played his hand, settling for $130 million from the Texas Rangers instead.

But should Choo have settled for anything less than what Ellsbury got? I don't think so, but can see why he did. Ellsbury is more than a year younger than Choo, who turns 32 next summer. Ellsbury also plays center field and plays it well. Choo has never had a year like the one Ellsbury had in 2011, and while he too was a center fielder in 2013 he was absolutely abysmal there. It goes without saying that he will hold down a corner in 2014, wherever he lands, and the only corner outfielder to outearn Ellsbury was Manny Ramirez. Choo is a great ballplayer, but he is not Manny Ramirez.

You could certainly make the argument that he's better than Ellsbury, though. Look how their numbers compare since 2007, the year Ellsbury debuted:

Choo (2,947 AB): .290/.392/.468 (137 OPS+), 101 HR, 100 SB, 24.5 bWAR
Ellsbury (2,912 AB): .297/.350/.439 (108 OPS+), 65 HR, 241 SB, 21 bWAR

Even taking into account Ellsbury's superiority on the basepaths and in the fields, Choo does more than enough with the stick to compensate. Choo's an on-base machine and has much more power than Ellsbury, who has never topped double digit home runs in any season outside of his monster 2011. Choo strikes out more, a lot more, but his batting average is still comparable to Ellsbury's, which is more than a little inflated by Fenway Park (he's a .288 hitter everywhere else).

Another way in which Choo comes out on top is durability. Choo's played at least 144 games in four of the past five years. Ellsbury has done so just twice, and played 92 games in 2010 and 2012 combined. As Joe Posnanski likes to say. one of the most underrated talents in life is simply showing up.

So rather than bat at the top of New York's lineup, Choo will be setting the table for Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre. Given how old and decrepit the Yankees are looking these days, he'll probably have a much better chance to win his first World Series ring with Texas, even if he did have to settle for $10 million less.

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