Seven consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance and five without a winning record leads fans to disgruntled arguments, peering the pending free agent list, and wondering how the club will improve in the immediate future to try to latch onto hope for the near future.
The New York Mets have found themselves most closely associated with free agent outfielder Shin Soo Choo, and for good reason: His high offensive ceiling compliments the Mets’ need for production from Citi Field’s spacious outfield. The club has money to spend, and Choo appears to be eager to pen a longterm deal with a club close to contention. That doesn’t mean the Mets should bite.
Choo will be entering his age 31-32 season, and assuming he can replicate his 2013 success over the duration of a five-year pact with the club, he would provide far greater than the near-$20M average annual value of the contract that Scott Boras is seeking for his client. Choo produced a .285/.423/.462 clip in 712 plate appearances as Cincinnati’s leadoff man and ranked 2nd in the league in OBP. In a stark comparison, Mets leadoff men produced a paltry .233/.293/.315 line in 754 plate appearances, a number that was somehow helped by Eric Young Jr.’s presence through the second half of the season.
Choo posted career highs in home runs (21), walks (112), runs (107), OBP (.423), and wRC+ (151), but did so in a park that boasts a significantly greater offensive environment. While Choo actually hit more home runs away from Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark (11) than he did at home, all of his other peripherals tail off significantly.
Shin Soo Choo’s 2013 at Home: .318/.448/..500
Shin Soo Choo’s 2013 Away: .251/.399/.424
Is it possible that the factors are an aberration? Barring his 2009 and 2011 seasons with Cleveland, Choo has always been a better offensive contributor on his home field. It’s possible that Choo gains experience and therefore conditions himself to the park’s factors when he receives greater playing time at a designated park (Choo has numbers close to his 2013 season in each of the parks he has played in and received greater than 100 plate appearances).
When one considers all of the factors, it’s unlikely that Choo will replicate his 2013 campaign more than once over the duration of a five-year commitment. The 31-year-old will still provide a significant upgrade over any internal option the Mets possess, but will face a natural offensive decline in Flushing (although the shift from center to right will aid his defensive liabilities). While not all contracts are signed with the intent that a player will be consistent throughout the duration of the deal, Choo is not the impact player that the Mets should give the type of superstar contract to. If Choo is truly seeking a $100-110M commitment, the Mets may be better tasked signing Carlos Beltran or Marlon Byrd to a two-year commitment and trying the market again in two years time.
Do you believe the Mets should take a gamble on Choo regardless? Would the Mets be better served signing Beltran or Byrd? Taking a flyer on the trade market? Let us know your thoughts below!
Photo Credit: Fox Sports