As a prominent Korean player, there would be a mutual benefit to Shin-Soo Choo performing in New York, with the second-largest Korean population (behind Los Angeles) in the United States. This is important to consider because of how it might affect the price tag for Choo, which is expected to surpass $100 million. It’s pointless to argue whether Choo deserves that kind of money; the market will determine that, and as Boras happily pointed out, it’s flush with cash and a desire to spend. Unlike some other players, however, he could give his next team — with the right level of visibility — the chance to defray those costs. “There have been players in markets like Ichiro who brought a tremendous amount of revenues to Seattle because of his origin,” Boras said. “Certainly Choo is along the lines of the Michael Jordan of Korea, and both he and [Hyun-Jin Ryu] have really taken the country by storm.”
Boras tends to exaggerate — it’s part of his business plan — and comparing Choo to Jordan is a stretch. But Ryu’s impact on the Dodgers in his rookie season, on and off the field, suggests there are financial advantages to be found in high-profile Korean players in the right markets. The Dodgers took a calculated risk on Ryu, who required a $25.7 million posting fee to secure his rights before L.A. signed him to a six-year, $36 million contract. But shortly after that was completed, the Dodgers locked up multiyear deals with new Korean sponsors, including electronics giant LG and Nexen Tire, with other companies also buying ad space at the stadium. Ryu ranked 17th among the top-selling jerseys after the All-Star break, ahead of David Ortiz and Robinson Cano. That’s not a direct payoff for the Dodgers — the money is split evenly among the 30 teams — but it is an indication of Ryu’s popularity, which usually translates into a bump in ticket sales and increased revenues from other sources. The Dodgers declined a request to provide any information regarding Ryu’s financial impact on the club.
What that could mean for Choo’s next team is difficult to calibrate now. Choo has played seven years in Cleveland and one in Cincinnati, cities with negligible Korean populations and teams that aren’t exactly name brands in South Korea. The Mets and Yankees, with their own networks in the nation’s biggest TV market, offer more exposure than anywhere else. At the end of the season, Choo told the Korean media he wanted to play in a city with a big Korean community — something he noticed when he faced Ryu in L.A. this season — and on a World Series contender. Those priorities often tend to be conveniently forgotten in Boras’ aggressive pursuit of the top dollar, so we’ll see how the market shapes up for Choo. For two teams needing an offseason boost as they head into an uncertain 2014, Choo is a multi-dimensional option who could be especially valuable to both. —Based on a story by David Lennon at Newsday
AL West Commentary
Ron Washington confirmed with us that the Rangers have been discussing all of the big name free agents including Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury. —Jim Bowden at ESPN
So they said
“Don’t buy into the idea that Jacoby Ellsbury is headed for a crash as he slows down. In fact, if he performs like the average of the similar players who came before him, the rumored price tags of $120-$140 million might end up proving to be a bargain.” —Dave Cameron at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
When Randy Johnson defeated the Nationals on June 4, 2009, he won his 300th game. He might have been the last pitcher for a while to do that. “Given the money starting pitchers are making and the fact they’re so protected, I can’t see a scenario where we’d ever see one,” said former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. “You’d need to win 15 games for 20 years straight,” Schilling said. “Hard to see it.” —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
“It will be interesting to see how much the FA market is held up by top players waiting to see if the Yankees have extra dough from A-Rod decision.” —Andrew Marchand at ESPN New York
“A thought on closer market: What does it tell us that 3 years in a row the team that won WS ended w/ a different closer than it started with?” —Jason Stark at ESPN
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Toronto, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles Angels, Washington, Kansas City, and Colorado can’t afford to misfire this offseason without fear of significant changes in their front offices. —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Roch Kubatko at MASN updated his readers on Nate McLouth, saying: “The Orioles want to re-sign Nate McLouth, but they’ve been concerned about other clubs offering two-year deals. They’d rather avoid the two-year, $10 million projection from MLB Trade Rumors. I ran those figures past someone in the organization late in the season, and he responded, “Well, he won’t be getting that from us.” We’ll see but that doesn’t mean I’d automatically project him as the starting left fielder. McLouth could be a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch runner, defensive replacement. If it takes a two-year contract, do it. Wilson Betemit got a two-year deal. I’d do the same for McLouth and be perfectly fine with starting him against right-handers and taking advantage of his tools.”
How would you feel about adding a starting pitcher who last year went 18-6 with an ERA of 2.65? He had a WHIP of 1.166 and walked just 1.4 batters per every nine innings. He was second in the American League in ERA and wins while adding three shutouts. By the way, you may be able to sign this pitcher for just one year. What? Who is this and how could this be possible? It is Bartolo Colon, and because he will turn 41 next May, some teams may be able to sign him to pitch on just a one-year deal. Colon has a reputation for being a solid presence in the clubhouse. Over the last two years, Cliff Lee is the only starter with a lower walk rate than Colon. He also works deep into games, and even though he pitches in a spacious home park in Oakland, Colon’s road ERA is better than his home ERA over the last two years. He didn’t get a qualifying offer and won’t cost the team that signs him a draft pick. After pitching to a combined ERA of 2.99 the past two seasons, can Colon be among the AL’s top pitchers again in 2014? On the stat sheet, he looks like a No. 1 pitcher. He is going to be 41 years old, but clearly several teams are going to show interest in him. —From a piece by Steve Melewski at MASN
Personally, I’d offer him 2/$12M and be happy if he came anywhere near his recent production during the 2014 season, and ecstatic if he could make the team in 2015.
Seven Players Chosen as MLB Ambassadors; Diamondbacks and Dodgers Travel to Australia ahead of 2014 Opening Series. Major League Baseball players will travel this offseason to share their passion for the game with fans and young players from developing baseball countries. In November, All-Star Curtis Granderson, Roger Bernadina of the 2013 Netherlands World Baseball Classic team, and Chris Dickerson will visit France and the Netherlands as part of the fourth-annual “European Big League Tour.”
In December, Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals will travel to China, and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Mark Melancon will visit South Africa. Yan Gomes of the Cleveland Indians, the first Brazilian-born player to play in the Major Leagues when he debuted in 2011, will represent baseball in his home country this December. In February, relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins will serve as a pitching instructor at the MLB Brazil Elite Camp.
In addition, Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks and A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers will head to Sydney, Australia in advance of the 2014 Opening Series which will take place March 22 & 23 at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds. The Series will mark the first-ever regular season games played on the continent. Diamondbacks All-Star first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt recently promoted the event during tours in Australia and New Zealand.
By The Numbers
Joe Mauer was 17 for 41 against curves this season; his .415 BA was the best in baseball. —The Bill Chuck Files