Shin-Soo Choo: Buy Or Sell?
First off, let me thank subscribers for their kind words last week. My wife, Sarah, gave birth to baby Evan at 5:19 pm last Friday evening. He was seven pounds, nine ounces and 20 3/4 inches long. After five days, life is returning to normal, or as normal as having four kids and three dogs can be.
Onto today’s piece about free agent Shin-Soo Choo and whether he’s a buy or sell candidate. In many ways, this piece is bittersweet for me. For years, I considered Choo one of the most undervalued assets in the game. In multiple leagues and on numerous occasions, I tried to acquire the outfielder with little success. At the time, the owners knew they had something good, but not one of the better fantasy performers around. Owners asked for a bevy of talent in return, but more because of my insistence on acquiring him than anything else.
2013 was an interesting year for the outfielder. At 30/31, Choo had a career year at the tail end of his prime when it mattered most. He’s now set to cash in big as one of the five best free agents available in this year’s class. Is it time to deal Choo to the highest bidder or is his career year something which is repeatable in 2014 and beyond?
If one appreciates common sense, the obvious play is to sell Choo as an older player who’ll have less motivation to be successful after signing a nine figure deal which is likely to end after his age 37/38 season. Not so fast. Choo has three 20-20 seasons under his belt and athletic outfielders tend to have longer primes. I discussed this in a previous piece.
The window to acquire his services on the cheap was 2011. That ship has sailed, obviously.
Is it realistic to expect a .420+ on base percentage again? Probably not, but what if Choo winds up in a uniform of a mid-tier team working to gain ground? Would the Cubs use him as a lead off hitter? The Mariners? He’d be the best hitter for a number of teams and productive in the three hole. If his RBI totals rose from 54 to 90 or so. This would offset a drop in OBP and then some.
In 5×5 leagues, a .285 hitter with 20 home runs and stolen bases, as well as 90 runs and runs batted in is at least a $30-$40 player in auction formats. This would leave Choo a top-8 outfielder with a chance of top-5 status. Over time, the stolen bases will dry up, but an aggressive base running team would still allow for double-digits through the life of his next contract. In reality, ten-plus steals is really the magic number for 5×5 fantasy prominence anyway. Very few players register as impact talents without the ability to add counting numbers to every category.
Another thing to consider is whether or not your team is rebuilding or competitive right now. In dynasty leagues, Choo is at an age where he needs to be dealt, or held for the duration of his career. Players in their early 30’s lose substantial trade value each season. No player can be productive forever and managers with bad teams need to act accordingly.
A few years ago, I took over a dynasty league team and quickly dealt Jose Reyes, as well as other veterans with value for a bevy of young regulars. By the time my team would be ready to compete, Reyes would be slowing down or hurt again. Choo has had moderate injury issues to, so there is inherent risk.
Ultimately, buying or selling Choo really depends on the situation. If healthy, his production is money in the bank and enough to deliver a championship to a team on the verge. In this instance, I’m forced to ride the fence because he is an impact player at peak value showing no signs of slowing down. I apologize in advance if you hoped for a definitive answer.
4 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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