Shin-Soo Choo hoping to avoid military service by playing for South Korea in Asian Games

12 Comments

Shin-Soo Choo has established himself as one of the best all-around outfielders in the league over the past three seasons, but his two-year obligation to the South Korean military has lingered in the background as a potential complication.
And now he’ll try to play his way out of the military.
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports that Choo is on South Korea’s official 24-man roster for the upcoming Asian Games and speculates that he “would likely receive an exemption from the South Korean military … if Cho’s team is able to capture the gold medal.”
Choo is 28 years old and according to Castrovince “all able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve two years in the military by the end of their 30th year,” so without that exemption the Indians could be facing life without their right fielder.
Choo has said previously that he has no intention of serving the two-year term while in the prime of his career and Castrovince writes that “a last-ditch option would be to simply not return to South Korea and begin the process of becoming an American citizen.”
Before that happens he’ll try to help South Korea win the Asian Games, which is an 11-team tournament held in China two months from now. Assistant general manager Chris Antonetti said the Indians would support Choo’s decision to play “provided there’s not an injury or a workload concern.”

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

Getty Images
4 Comments

The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.