Saturday, December 21, 2013

How the Rangers' signing of Shin-Soo Choo impacts the Dodgers

To be honest, not a whole lot. The last thing the Dodgers needed was another outfielder, unless said outfielder were named Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout. But the impact of Shin-Soo Choo's signing with the Rangers (7 years, $130 million, dayum) might be felt the rest of the winter.

While the Dodgers are insistent on the idea of not trading an outfielder (even though they probably should), the Rangers signing Choo removes one potential landing spot for Andre Ethier (or Carl Crawford).

Matt Kemp -- despite the myriad of rumors -- is going nowhere, as isn't Yasiel Puig. But I still contend the Dodgers need to make a move with one of these four before the start of the 2014 season.

The likelihood of the quartet being healthy for the vast majority of the season isn't terribly likely, but what if they are? Ethier and/or Crawford are going to be none too happy with playing just 2-4 times per week. Provided Kemp and Puig are healthy, they're 150-plus-game players. Ethier and Crawford are as well (their contracts say so), which could cause problems.

It can be argued Ethier would be a better investment than what the Rangers did with Choo. But Choo still posted an .885 OPS while hitting a paltry .215/.347/.265 against left-handers in 2013. If he ever learns to hit lefties, he'd be a Top-10 offensive player in the game.

The teams originally interested in Choo include the Mariners, Orioles, Tigers and Giants, to go along with the Rangers, Reds and Yankees. We all know the Giants aren't interested in trading for Ethier (well, they might be, but it won't happen). The Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury and tried to give Choo $140 million, but he declined (and will actually get more net money in Texas because of no state income tax).

That leaves the Mariners, Orioles, Reds and Tigers. The Tigers don't have anyone really to trade and the Orioles are balking at spending money.

With Nelson Cruz still available -- and seeking a contract similar to what Ethier is owed over the next five years ($71.5 million), he might be preferred by the Mariners and Orioles. The fact he has draft pick compensation tied to his potential signing has kept him on the market this long (not his performance-enhancing drug suspension).

The Reds make a lot of sense, as they have Ryan Ludwick penciled in as their everyday left fielder. That doesn't bode well for their success. An Ethier/Ludwick platoon could work. A Crawford/Ludwick platoon could work as well. A lineup led by Billy Hamilton and Crawford would be nothing if not fun to watch.

The Mariners have Nick Franklin available after signing Robinson Cano, so an Ethier-for-Franklin deal could make some sense (with other pieces and money involved).

If Ethier is moved this winter, I'd say Seattle or Cincinnati are the most likely landing spots, with Baltimore a distant third. He makes sense for all three teams. Crawford could be substituted for Ethier in deals to Cincinnati or Baltimore, but I don't see Seattle having much interest in him.

I'm not opposed to the Dodgers keeping all four of their outfielders, but I don't envy Don Mattingly if all four guys are healthy. And it isn't selfish for these guys to want to play. Hell, players are criticized for not wanting to play at times. If all four guys are kept, don't expect Scott Van Slyke to get many plate appearances or for Joc Pederson to be recalled anytime soon.

The Choo signing is likely the last big one this offseason. Masahiro Tanaka could be the biggest one remaining, if the Rakuten Golden Eagles decide to post him. The signing likely takes the Rangers out of the Tanaka sweepstakes, if it commences. The Yankees, Cubs and Mariners are likely to be the Dodgers' biggest competitors for his services.

Photo credit
Choo: NewJack984, Wikimedia Commons
Ethier: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue

1 comment:

  1. One way it could impact the Dodgers is that it leaves Texas with less payroll room to sign Kershaw next off-season.

    You gotta be kidding me. Would a robot have expressed that opinion?