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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SOLVING THE RIGHT FIELD PROBLEM: SHIN-SOO CHOO

Nothing is certain but death, taxes, and Nick Swisher playing elsewhere in 2013. All jokes aside, it does appear that Swish is a goner, thus the Yankees will need to find a replacement. There are plenty of options that have already been floated around, but one that needs some serious consideration is Shin-Soo Choo.

The other day I wrote about how Anibal Sanchez is a short and long-term solution in the starting rotation. (Read ANIBAL SANCHEZ: THE SHORT AND LONG-TERM FIX in case you missed it.)  With the impending $189 million budget set for 2014, it would behoove the Yankees to find their long-term solution as soon as possible so they don’t have to scramble for one at the last minute. There are some nice stop-gap alternatives, like Torii Hunter, for example.

But that’s all Hunter is; a stop-gap, and we need more than that. Choo has been very valuable for the Cleveland Indians after coming over from the Seattle Mariners in 2006 via trade. The table below will illustrate that. Take a look:
As you can see, we have over 630 games and nearly 3000 plate appearances worth of evidence suggesting that Choo is absolutely worth replacing Swisher in right field, and then some.
Of course Choo has had his bumps in the road in this five-year period, including 2008 when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery. 2011 was a pretty rough year for him as well as it started off with him getting charged with a DUI in early May, (Read HERE). Thereafter he underwent left thumb surgery after getting hit by a pitch in June followed by a pair of oblique strains that shelved him for more than 30 games. Off-field troubles and injuries aside, Choo is one of the best right fielders in the game.
(In Photo: Mason Williams)
Obviously the Yankees would need to work out a trade with the Indians to land Choo, and that is no walk in the park. I’m no GM, but I would have to think that it’d take one of outfield prospects like Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, or Tyler Austin, and perhaps a young pitcher like Ivan Nova or David Phelps. 2013 is the final year of his contract, so maybe it’ll take less than that to acquire him. Who knows. He’s 30 years old, so signing him to say, a five-year contract, would also cover some of his decline years, though he has the skillset to be a very good-very productive player for the duration of his possible tenure in New York. Finally, Choo is a Scott Boras client, thus it’ll be tricky to extend his contract before he becomes a free agent. It won’t be easy working out a deal, but it’s certainly possible, as the Yankees have the pieces to get it done.

Choo isn’t the only long-term option, but he’s the wisest long-term option that’s available. There are guys like free agent Josh Hamilton, as well as Arizona Diamondback Justin Upton. Personally, I do not want Hamilton for multiple reasons, and the Diamondbacks will most likely ask for too much in a trade for Upton. A ­while ago I teased that I’d fit Ichiro into this plan as well, but I’m running out of time, so I promise I’ll talk about him at a later time. However, just know that Choo is an absolute upgrade in right field that solves short-term and long-term issues.



--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse



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