The future is bright. Well, that’s what we keep telling ourselves. After two seasons of complete rebuilding mode, it appears the transition to a contender will begin this offseason.
According to CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, the Cubs could make a run at free-agent-to-be Shin-Soo Choo, who currently mans the outfield for the the Cubs’ National League Central rival, the Cincinnati Reds.
Choo, 31, is ranked as the fifth-best free agent of this offseason’s crop according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR. Dierkes had this to say about the South Korean native in his latest update of the list.
“Choo drops a few spots in the list, though he hasn’t done anything wrong. In fact, his .416 on-base percentage dwarfs that of the next free agent, with Cano checking in at .371.”
On-base percentage. That’s what it all comes down to in the end. At least in terms of modern sabermetrics. Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane was one of the first to follow this philosophy, and teams have followed suit in recent years.
The outfielder was drafted by the Seattle Mariners back in 2002, and he has played for only three clubs in his career; the aforementioned Mariners, the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds. The overwhelming majority of those years were spent in Cleveland, where he averaged a .292 average with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs over seven seasons.
This year, his first in the National League, Choo has maintained his career averages, and is on pace to hit 20 home runs, while driving in 51 runs. His average is expected to be around .283 at season’s end, to go along with a .416 on-base percentage.
The big question if you’re a Cubs’ fan is two-fold. First, would he be a good addition. I’ll delve into that in an additional post tomorrow morning. Secondly, what are Chicago’s intentions with Choo?
Some believe they will pick him up only to swap him at next year’s July Trade Deadline, as both offense and above-average outfielders have been hard to come by of late. Given the actions of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the rest of the Chicago front office the past two years, this remains a very possible outcome.
Speculators believe that agent Scott Boras will seek a deal for roughly four years and $60 million, due to his talents, but the end result remains to be seen. Heading into 2014, Chicago is one of the youngest team’s in all of baseball, comparable to teams such as the Miami Marlins, who are focused on similar matters – building a sustainable, young core that will lead to years of success.
Chicago could look to keep Choo as a clubhouse leader, and use him as a mentor for an outfield corps that has just two relatively secure members entering next season – Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake. Adding Choo would give the Cubs a dependable left-handed bat, and a very solid corner outfielder that would all-around add much needed elements to the lineup card.
With the season roughly 2/3 of the way over, prepare yourselves for the months ahead. Speculation, rumors and more. We’ll break them all down for you here at Cubbies Crib.