UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News are both reporting that the deal is worth $130 million. That’s $10 million less than the reported offer from the Yankees, but when you figure the tax difference between the states, Scott Boras actually did pretty well for his client here.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that it’s a straight seven-year, $130 million deal with a limited no-trade clause and no opt-outs or options. The deal will run through Choo’s age-37 season.
12:15 p.m. ET: Big news on what was originally expected to be a sleepy Saturday in the baseball world, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Rangers have agreed to a seven-year deal with free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News has confirmed the report. No word yet on the exact dollar amount.
We heard earlier this week that Choo had previously turned down a seven-year, $140 million offer from the Yankees, so it will be interesting to see if Scott Boras was able to top that. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has been coy about his interest in Choo this winter, but they reportedly offered him a seven-year deal at the Winter Meetings.
This is the second major splash of the winter for Daniels, as he traded second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for first baseman Prince Fielder in November. The Rangers were seventh in the American League in runs scored this past season, but that lineup is suddenly looking quite potent again with Choo at the top and Fielder in the middle.
Choo, 31, hit .285/.423/.462 with 21 home runs, 54 RBI and 20 stolen bases over 154 games with the Reds in 2013. He has a .389 career on-base percentage.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.