Good news for Indians fans.
According to Jordan Bastian, MLB.com’s new Indians beat writer, South Korea defeated Taiwan 9-3 on Friday in the final of the Asian Games. Tribe outfielder Shin-Soo Choo should now be exempt from Korea’s required two-year military service.
Choo batted .300/.401/.484 with 22 home runs, 90 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 144 games for the Indians in 2010 and he hit .300/.394/.489 with 20 homers, 86 RBI and 20 steals the year before. With Grady Sizemore hurt, he’s probably been Cleveland’s most valuable position player over the last two seasons.
Had Korea not won, Choo might have tried to become a United States citizen in order to avoid the military stint. But that certainly wouldn’t have gone over well in his home country and it’s far more fun that he beat the odds in a Hollywood-esque “play for your freedom” type of challenge.
Updates were hard to come by throughout the Asian Games, but we do know that Choo went 6-for-10 with three home runs and nine RBI over the first four games of the tournament.
The Indians, if so inclined, can now feel comfortable about discussing a contract extension with the 28-year-old. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.
UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Choo drove in two runs in the championship game. Can the story get any better?
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.