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.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.