When the Reds acquired Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians this offseason they knew it might only be a one-year pickup with free agency right around the corner, but general manager Walt Jocketty told C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that they’ll “do everything we can” to re-sign him.
Choo has been fantastic this season, playing center field better than most people expected and hitting .285 with 21 homers, 109 walks, and a .426 on-base percentage that ranks second among NL hitters behind only teammate Joey Votto. And at age 31 he’s in line for a huge payday as one of the best players on the open market this winter.
According to Jocketty the Reds have reached out to Choo and agent Scott Boras about a potential long-term deal, but “he’s wanted to wait or maybe Scott wants to wait until the year is over.”
If the Reds fail to re-sign Choo they have the fastest man in baseball, Billy Hamilton, waiting in the wings to replace him in center field, although for all the excitement Hamilton brings to the table as a runner he didn’t hit much at Triple-A this season and certainly won’t come anywhere close to Choo’s outstanding on-base skills. Hamilton had a .304 OBP at Triple-A.
And with the Reds’ projected 2014 payroll already over $100 million Jocketty may have his hands somewhat tied when it comes to keeping Choo.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.