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.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final seven Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.