Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shin-Soo Choo or Carlos Beltran?

So far the Yankees have been linked to pretty much every top free agent on the market for this upcoming offseason. Who knows what that means, but hopefully it means that the Yankees plan on being active in free agency this winter. 

The looming Alex Rodriguez appeal is an issue because it is not expected to pick up again for another three weeks. It will take at least another week after that to finish it, and then arbitrator Fred Horowitz will have 25 days to render a ruling. By that time all of the top free agents could be gone. 

Starting pitching, catcher and the left side of the infield are considered bigger needs than outfield, but the Yankees have been rumored to be interested in Carlos Beltran and Shin-Shoo Choo. Ichiro Suzuki or Vernon Wells are not suited to be starting in the outfield and either Beltran or Choo would be huge additions to the Yankees. Which one provides the better value though? 

In a vacuum Choo is obviously the better player than Beltran, but of course he will cost much more than Beltran. With the $90 million deal Hunter Pence got in San Francisco there is speculation that Choo could be in line for $100 million, since he is a better player than Pence. With the Yankees trying to get under the $189 million luxury tax they need to watch every dollar carefully. 

Choo is an on-base machine, as he was 4th in MLB with a .423 OBP this season. The Yankees are coming off a season where they had a hideous team OBP of .307, which was their lowest since 1990. The Yankees have always been known for driving up a pitchers pitch count and working walks, and Choo would help bring that element back to the Yankees. 

Overall, Choo had a fantastic season, as he had a .285/.423/.462/.885 slash line with 21 home runs and 151 wRC+. It is realistic to think that Choo could approach 30 home runs with the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Choo could combine with Brett Gardner to form one of the best top of the lineups in MLB. 

The problems with Choo are his platoon splits, his age and his defense. I think the defense is the least of his problems because you can hide a bad fielder in right field at Yankee Stadium. His -15.5 UZR was terrible last season, but center field in Cincinnati is a lot different from right field in New York.

Against lefties last season Choo had a slash line of .215/.347.265/.612 and against righties it was .317/.457/.554/1.011. Choo did not hit lefties at all, but his OBP against them did not make him completely useless. Gardner and Choo at the top of the lineup against a lefty would be an issue as would a manager bringing in a lefty late in a game to face Choo. 

Choo is 31, so he should still have some prime years left, but the end of his contract could be an issue. That is something that has burned the Yankees recently. 

Meanwhile, Beltran is tearing it up in another postseason for St. Louis. I am one who thinks postseason performance is a small sample size and is mostly random, but Beltran continues to defy me. At this point you have to come to expect Beltran to perform every postseason, even though past postseason play usually has no effect on future postseasons. 

Beltran was great in the regular season as well, as he hit .296 with 24 home runs, 79 RBI, a .830 OPS and 132 w RC+. He is 38 years old, which is an obvious concern, but he has shown absolutely zero signs of decline. Also, because of that age the Yankees should be able to get him on a nice discount. 

Beltran has always wanted to play for the Yankees and is a great clubhouse guy. Beltran being a switch hitter is also a huge plus. With the Yankees trying to get under $189 million he would probably be the better option due to how much cheaper he would come as opposed to Choo. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)