For a few weeks now, we have heard rumors of the Astros being linked to on base machine Shin-Soo Choo. Beginning Tuesday, November 5th, free agents are free to negotiate with teams. This can be an exciting time for fans, and one Astro fans haven't been able to really enjoy for years. Rebuilding phase is complete after the 2014 draft. No more trading for prospects and holding out for draft picks. The time to begin winning in Houston is finally approaching us.
On Saturday, CBSSports writers Jon Heyman, Danny Knobler, and Scott Miller made their free agent predictions for this off season and they all picked Choo to the Astros. Here is what they said.
Heyman: Astros. They need to spend money. They love OBP. Tough place to go right now, but the money will get it done.
Knobler: Astros. His patient approach is what the Astros love. Could be a repeat of the Jayson Werth scenario where free agent gets big bucks for a team that looks like it's a couple years from contending.
Miller: Astros. As colleague Jon Heyman reported, the Astros are very interested in Choo. And despite their rebuilding plan, they need to do something this winter to their television rating don't sink to SUB-zero in 2014.
Jeff Luhnow and Jim Crane are adamant about spending money this off season, as made evident by the hot pursuit of Cuban first baseman Juan Abreu. While the CBS guys make it sound like the Astros just need to throw their money around, this signing could prove to be a very productive one. Choo hit .285 last season while hitting 21 homeruns and knocking in 54 RBIs and getting on base at a stellar clip of .423. Circle that .423 because that is what Jeff Luhnow will be looking at the most. Right field was a problem for the Astros last season (among many others) rotating J.D. Martinez, Rick Ankiel, Jimmy Paredes, Trevor Crowe, Marc Krauss, Brandon Barnes, and L.J. Hoes. Choo could fix that problem very quickly and stabilize the top of the lineup. While he will have to endure another losing season in 2014 with the Astros, 2015 and beyond could produce winning teams with Choo being a big part of that. The free agent outfield market next off season won't be as good as it is this year, so this might be their best chance to capitalize on Choo now.
The biggest question that the Astros will face regarding Choo is whether or not his numbers will regress, already in his 30's and with given his age, if he is worth what he will be asking for. With George Springer, Domingo Santana, DeLino DeShields Jr. and Preston Tucker coming soon, the outfield depth is already looking good. Throw Choo in there as well and you have a great problem to have. My vote is yes to Shin-Soo Choo, as he ultimately gives you your very best option in right field, even at age 32. Besides, when he hits homeruns at Minute Maid Park with the train being there, we can all yell, "CHOO CHOO!" Heck, sign him simply for that reason.